Four anti-polio campaigners shot dead near Quetta

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QUETTA-

Gunmen attacked a polio vaccination team Wednesday in Quetta, killing four health workers.

The attack on the health workers took place in the southwestern city of Quetta. Those killed in the attack on the outskirts of Quetta included three women, said a police spokesman Shahzada Farhat.

The vaccination team of three women and three men was waiting for a police escort when two gunmen opened fire on them, he said.

Local militants oppose the vaccination campaign, alleging that western governments use it as a cover to spy on insurgents. A Pakistani Dr. Shakeel Afridi used the same method of a fake vaccination drive to collect evidence on al-Qaida’s late chief Osama bin Laden, which led to his killing by a U.S. special forces team in a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio, which can cause paralysis and death, remains endemic. The incidence of polio in Pakistan has hit a 15-year high; the World Health Organization has already registered 235 polio cases since January. Attempts to administer the vaccine have been hindered by militant attacks that have killed hundreds of health workers.