Assailants gun down senior health official in NW Pakistan


A senior Pakistani health official was killed when armed assailants opened fire on his vehicle in the country’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) near the border with Afghanistan. 

Local Pakistani police officials said that doctor Yaqub Khan, head of the Expanded Program of Immunization in Swabi district of the troubled province, came under attack on Monday when he was driving.

He was killed on the spot while the driver suffered injuries in the deadly assault in the district, located about 115 kilometers (71 miles) northwest of the capital, Islamabad.

Another local police official said two women in the back seat also escaped unharmed from the attack.

The assassination is the latest in a string of killings targeting people linked to a polio eradication campaign in the country.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, though officials usually put the blame for such attacks on pro-Taliban militants, who have carried out similar attacks in Pakistan during vaccination campaigns over the past years.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic. Figures show that Pakistan health recorded 306 cases of polio in 2014, the highest in more than a decade.

Attempts to eradicate the polio have been badly hit by militant attacks on immunization teams.

Pro-Taliban militants operating in Pakistan have ordered a ban on polio vaccination campaigns, arguing that they could be a cover-up for US espionage activities.

Several anti-polio workers have been killed or kidnapped by militants in various regions of Pakistan over the past months. A series of militant attacks have claimed nearly 80 lives on polio teams since December 2012.

There has been a surge in militant attacks in Pakistan since late 2009 with thousands of people killed and thousands more displaced by the wave of violence in the country.

News source: Press TV