Policeman guarding polio vaccinating team gunned down in second killing in two days

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Gunmen shot dead a policeman guarding a polio vaccination team in Pakistan’s northwest on Sunday in the second such killing in two days, police said.

The attack in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa came a day after two men with the Pakistani Taliban gunned down another police officer who was guarding a similar vaccination team in the same area.

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“Two gunmen riding a motorbike opened fire on a policeman who was guarding a two-member female polio vaccination team in the Sheikh Uttar area, killing him on the spot,” Tank district police chief Sajjad Khan told AFP.

Another local police official, Amanat Ali, confirmed the incident and said the assailants had escaped.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing, but a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban earlier claimed Saturday’s attack.

It comes after the militants on Friday ended a ceasefire with Pakistan’s government mediated with the help of the Afghan Taliban, accusing authorities of violating the terms of the one-month truce.

No progress had been made in fresh negotiations with Pakistan’s government, according to an audio message released late on Friday by Pakistani Taliban leader Noor Wali Mehsud.

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in October that the government was in talks with the group for the first time since 2014, facilitated by the Afghan Taliban, who seized power across the border in August.

The Pakistani Taliban -- a separate movement from Afghanistan's new leaders but which shares a common history -- plunged Pakistan into a period of horrific violence after forming in 2007.

Police guards protecting vaccination teams in Pakistan have come under attack in the past, mostly from homegrown militants.

Pakistan is one of two countries where polio remains endemic but only one case has been reported this year after 84 in 2020, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Read more: Body of Sri Lankan killed by Pakistan mob over alleged blasphemy flown home

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