WHO suspends anti-polio drive in Peshawar after shooting

PESHAWAR: The World Health Organisation (WHO) suspended its polio eradication campaign in Pakistan’s troubled northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday after two young workers were killed as they administered drops.

Police said both victims aged 18 and 20 had died, but medical sources said one had died and one was seriously wounded.

“They were administering polio drops when they were attacked,” police officer Siraj Ahmed said.

WHO spokesperson Maryam Younas said the organisation was temporarily suspending its polio vaccination drive in Peshawar. “Operations will remain suspended in Peshawar until the security situation returns to normal,” she said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, though many Islamists, including Taliban militants, have long opposed the campaign, convinced that the anti-polio drive is a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.

The United Nations in Pakistan pulled all staff involved in the campaign off the streets last December. Immunisation continued in some areas without UN support although many workers refused to go out.