At least five polio workers were killed, four wounded on Tuesday in what appears to be coordinated attacks by unknown gunmen in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, reports say
At least five polio workers were killed, four wounded on Tuesday in what appears to be coordinated attacks by unknown gunmen in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, reports say. Multiple polio teams came under attack in three districts.
The attacks took place in three districts, Sorkh Rod, Khogyani, and the provincial capital Jalalabad, Atuallah Khogyani, the spokesperson for the provincial governor confirmed to TOLOnews.
So far, no group took responsibility for the attacks. ISIS, however, is known to be active in the province and had taken responsibility for the attacks in the past. On March 7, the group claimed the attack which had killed three female polio workers in Jalalabad.
Importantly, Pakistan and Afghanistan are just two countries yet to eradicate polio. In both countries, workers assigned for vaccination have been on target for decades now. Propaganda, mostly run by insurgents and radical Islamic clerics, against vaccination as something being anti-Islamic runs high in Afghanistan, and also in Pakistan, mostly in its northwestern tribal region.
In Afghanistan, it appears that these frequent attacks on polio workers and Hazaras have become means for ISIS to make its presence felt in the country.
Lately, the frequency and scale of these attacks have increased, and this might derail the whole polio vaccination drive in the country. International organizations working in the polio vaccination drive asked the Afghan government to provide security to polio teams.
In a conservative society like Afghanistan, women are mostly used for door-to-door campaigns. But, in the past, many of these women quit their jobs due to threats. In March this year, when three workers were killed in Jalalabad, the vaccination campaign had been remained suspended for weeks in the province.
Also, volunteers engaged in the drive also face intense pressure from their respective families against their jobs.