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Polio official gunned down in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a senior member of the polio eradication campaign in Peshawar, police said on Sunday, in the latest attack on immunisation teams.

Attempts to eradicate polio in Pakistan have been stunted by militant attacks on inoculation teams that have claimed more than 100 lives since December 2012.

Doctor Zakaullah Khan, a seasoned member of Peshawar’s polio vaccination campaign was killed late Saturday when gunmen on a motorbike opened fire near his house, a senior police official told AFP.

Imtiaz Ahmad, a provincial spokesman for the immunisation campaign, also confirmed the killing.

The Jamaatul Ahrar militant group on Sunday claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement, sent to AFP, the group’s spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan vowed to carry out more attacks.

Opposition to all forms of inoculation grew after the CIA organised a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He was killed there by US forces in 2011.

Despite the attacks, Pakistan hopes to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by 2018 by achieving its goal of no fresh cases for a year. It is one of only two countries in the world where polio, a crippling childhood disease, remains endemic.

In April gunmen shot dead seven policemen guarding a polio vaccination team in Karachi.

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