In northwest Pakistan near the Afghan border, a bomb blast occurred on Monday, claiming the lives of five police officers on duty to guard a polio vaccination campaign. More than 20 individuals were wounded in the attack, marking a troubling escalation in Islamist militant assaults ahead of the upcoming national elections on February 8.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistan Taliban, claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement. The explosion targeted a police truck en-route to protect a polio vaccination drive in the Bajaur tribal district.
Attacks by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan on polio vaccination teams are common; they see the campaign as a means for the West to monitor Muslims and claim that their goal is to make them infertile. The TTP has been engaged in a prolonged conflict against the state, seeking to overthrow the government and establish a strict form of Islamic rule. Their attacks have intensified since the termination of a ceasefire with the government last year.
Concerns have been raised by political analysts, and some politicians are advocating for a potential delay in the upcoming elections in the northwest. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar strongly condemned the recent attack, affirming the commitment to persist with the anti-polio campaign until the complete eradication of the polio virus. He expressed condolences for the martyred policemen, directed the provision of medical assistance to the injured, and emphasized the nation’s unity against terrorist designs.
Caretaker KP Chief Minister Justice (retd) Arshad Hussain Shah also condemned the blast, expressing grief over the loss of police officials’ lives. He prayed for the swift recovery of the wounded and vowed unwavering support for the bereaved families, highlighting the police force’s sacrifices to protect the public.
National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf conveyed condolences on the tragic loss of lives, emphasizing public support for the police in a statement shared on social media. The nation stands united against such acts of terrorism.