According to local authorities, two police officer escorting polio vaccination teams were killed by unidentified gunmen in Lower Dir (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) on Wednesday, December 18. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban and other militants have carried attacks on polio vaccination campaigns in the past.
Further attacks targeting vaccination campaigns are possible over the near term.
The Taliban and other militant groups have previously attacked polio vaccination team across the country.
In late December 2019, at least 104 new polio cases have been reported in Pakistan, compared to 12 new cases in 2018.
Poliomyelitis, or polio, is an infectious disease caused by the transmission of the poliovirus through the intestines. The poliovirus is typically transmitted from one person to another by ingesting food or water containing infected fecal matter; in rare instances, it can be spread through infected saliva. Most poliovirus infections are asymptomatic while minor symptoms include fever, headache, and sore throat. One percent of infections enter the central nervous system, causing neck, back, and extremity pain, vomiting, and lethargy.
Individuals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Pakistan more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, remain vigilant for criminal activity, and verify their vaccination status.