Police say gunmen kill 2 female polio workers in NW Pakistan

Gunmen on motorcycles killed two polio vaccination workers in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, local police said.

Police official Ijaz Khan said security forces in the town of Swabi were searching for the attackers. Both of the killed health workers were women, he added.

Swabi is in the deeply conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

Pakistan regularly carries out anti-polio drives, despite threats from the Taliban who claim the campaign is a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.

The latest attack came hours after Pakistan launched a new drive against the disease.

Militants have stepped up such attacks after it was revealed that a CIA fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a ruse in the U.S. hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In 2011, American commandos killed the al-Qaida leader in the country’s northwest.

Pakistan is one of three countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

Pakistan was hoping to eradicate the disease in 2018 when only 12 cases were reported. But there was a sudden surge in polio cases the following year when 135 children tested positive for the disease, shocking health officials.