Pakistani Taliban kill policeman guarding polio workers

Attack comes a day after militants called off month-long truce with the government

Pakistani security officers guard a checkpoint in Karachi on December 10. EPA
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A Pakistani policeman guarding a polio vaccination team was shot dead and another officer was hurt on Saturday in an attack claimed by the Pakistan Taliban.

It came a day after the militants called off a ceasefire with the government, accusing it of killing some of their fighters and violating the one-month truce mediated with the help of the Afghan Taliban.

Police said two men on a motorcycle opened fire on the officers, who were guarding a two-woman polio inoculation team in the Tank district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

"The gunmen opened fire indiscriminately, killing one policeman on the spot and wounding another," district police officer Sajjad Khan said.

A Pakistan Taliban spokesman said the group carried out the attack and put the death toll at two.

Police guards protecting vaccination teams in Pakistan have often come under attack from militants. Pakistan is one of two countries where polio remains endemic, but only one case has been reported this year after 84 in 2020, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The Pakistani Taliban, a separate movement from Afghanistan's new leaders but which shares a common history, plunged Pakistan into a period of horrific violence after forming in 2007.

Seven years after a military crackdown on the movement, Islamabad is now trying to quell a comeback by the group after the Afghan Taliban seized power across the border in August.

Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in October the government was in talks with the group for the first time since 2014, facilitated by the Afghan Taliban.

But in an audio message released late on Friday, Pakistan Taliban leader Noor Wali Mehsud said no progress had been made.

Updated: December 11, 2021, 1:19 PM