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Pakistani Taliban target cop guarding polio vaccine workers

dpa
Islamabad
Militants fighting Pakistan’s security forces on Saturday targeted a team of polio vaccine handlers, killing a policeman, hours after the militants ended a temporary ceasefire with the government. 
The gun attack occurred in the Tank district of the north-western province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, local police officer Sajjad Ahamd said. 
Gunmen, who were riding a motorbike, opened fire at the polio team and a paramilitary officer was injured in the attack after which they escaped. 
The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack.  The health workers, mostly young women, and police guards go door-to-door all across the country to vaccinate children up to the age of 5 multiple times a year.
Militants linked with al-Qaeda often attack health workers. Dozens of vaccine handlers and security officials have been killed by Taliban militants in the past.
The militants accuse the health workers of acting as spies and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.
Polio is a disease that especially affects children, and can cripple people for life.
Around 80,000 Pakistani civilians and security forces have been killed in suicide bombings, bomb assaults and gun attacks by the Taliban in almost two decades of violence.
On Friday, the TTP ended a month-long ceasefire that was arranged with the help of the Afghan Taliban, accusing the Pakistani government of breaching the agreement. 
Security experts said they fear a surge in violence after the collapse of last-minute talks to extend the ceasefire.

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