PESHAWAR - Two policemen providing security to a polio vaccination team were gunned down in Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday.

This is the latest in continuing attacks on polio teams in the country in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in particular. A two-member police team guarding a polio vaccination team was attacked in the village of Gandi Umer Khan when unidentified armed men riding a motorcycle opened indiscriminate fire on them. Subsequently, constable Muhammad Idrees and constable Muhammad Ilyas sustained multiple wounds and died on way to hospital. Police said the policemen were riding a bike on their way back from duty when they were ambushed by the unidentified attackers.

Soon after the incident, a large contingent of police reached the location of the attack and cordoned off the area. However, no arrest was made till filing of this report. Officials said the attack took place at Gandi Umar Khan village, on the second day of the three-day immunisation drive. Police further said that two cops were accompanying two local polio workers when four gunmen riding two motorbikes sprayed bullet on them. The two policemen succumbed to the bullet injuries in the way to hospital while polio workers remained unhurt in the incident.

They said it was not the first incident of attack on police and polio workers as on February 11 last, unidentified people attacked a polio team in the Parwa tehsil of Dera Ismail Khan and killed a policeman who was guarding the team.

Statistic shows that at least 54 people have been killed in attacks on polio teams in Pakistan since December 2012. Almost 10 days back, 12 paramilitary troops and a child were killed in two blasts targeting a polio vaccination team in Khyber Agency. TTP have banned polio vaccinations in parts of Fata till the US stops drone strikes. Tens of thousands of children have been left vulnerable by the ban.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012. Threats from militant attacks on polio teams have badly hampered a campaign to eliminate polio from Pakistan, which along with Nigeria and Afghanistan are the only countries where the disease remains endemic.