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Blast Near Polio Team Kills Two In Northwest Pakistan

posted 7 Oct 2013, 06:19 by Mpelembe   [ updated 7 Oct 2013, 06:20 ]

Police diffuse a second bomb found at the blast site near a polio vaccination team in Peshawar, where the first explosion killed at least two people.

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN (OCTOBER 6 , 2013) (REUTERS) - A bomb that exploded near a polio vaccination team in the volatile northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Monday (October 6) killed at least two people, and possibly as many as six, police said, the latest in a string of attacks against health workers.

Islamist violence has been on the rise in Pakistan, undermining Prime MinisterNawaz Sharif's efforts to tame the insurgency by opening peace talks with theTaliban.

Peshawar has borne the brunt of much of that violence, with the frontier city near the Afghan border hit by at least four attacks that killed scores in the past month.

Monday's blast appeared to target police who were assigned to protect the vaccination team. Health workers have been attacked repeatedly since the Talibandenounced vaccination as a Western plot to sterilize Muslims.

Two people were killed and around 20 people wounded, police said. Other police reports suggested up to six people were killed.

Graanullah Khan, a police official at the bomb site, confirmed that police were the target of the bomb.

"As you can see, the remote-controlled bomb was planted in the fields over there. It was set off, and our police were the target," Khan said.

"At that time, we hurriedly put everybody into vehicles, so we had no idea about how many were killed and how many injured. But we have now received information from LRH (Lady Reading Hospital) that two people have been martyred and the rest are injured," he added.

Bomb disposal squads found another unexploded bomb at the sight, which they later diffused.

The bomb was placed directly outside a clinic in Sulemankhel, on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Peshawar, police said.

Gunmen killed two female polio health workers in the same area earlier this year. Similar attacks have been staged elsewhere in Pakistan and also in Nigeria, where Islamist gunmen killed nine health workers in February.

Such attacks hamper efforts by global health organisations to eradicate polio, a virus that can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. Polio remains endemic in only three countries: PakistanAfghanistan and Nigeria.