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Militants Kill Policeman Guarding Pakistan Polio Team

FILE - Vaccinators wear protective masks as they get their temperature checked, during an anti-polio campaign, in a low-income neighborhood as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Karachi, Pakistan, July 20, 2020.

Officials in northwestern Pakistan said Saturday militants shot and killed one police officer and seriously injured another as they were escorting polio vaccinators.

The attack in Tank, a remote district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on the border with Afghanistan, came during a five-day drive to vaccinate 6.5 million children against the polio virus, said a provincial government spokesman.

Local police and witnesses told reporters the assailants riding a motorcycle targeted the polio security team and no health worker was hurt.

The outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, known as the Pakistani Taliban, took credit for the attack. Its spokesman, Muhammad Khurasani, claimed the attack had killed two police personnel, although the group is notorious for issuing inflated details for such attacks.

Saturday’s violence came two days after the TTP called off a 30-day cease-fire with the Pakistani government, accusing the other side of not honoring the deal’s terms.

The TTP denounces the polio vaccination campaign as a government instrument of spying on them while some Islamic groups in Pakistan see the vaccine as a Western conspiracy to sterilize Muslim children.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries where the wild polio virus still infects and cripples children.

The TTP is an alliance of about two dozen outlawed militant groups and has been carrying out suicide and other terrorist attacks across Pakistan for many years, killing tens of thousands of people, including Pakistani security personnel.

The group claims it is fighting for establishing its brand of Islamic laws, or Sharia, in Pakistan. Pakistani officials denounce the claims as ridiculous and dismiss TTP as criminals and thugs.

The United States and the United Nations have designated the TTP as a global terrorist organization.