Suicide attack on Pakistan polio vaccination center kills 15 – The Columbian

QUETTA, Pakistan — A suicide attack on a polio vaccination center in southwestern Pakistan on Wednesday killed 15 people, mainly policemen gathered to escort health workers, officials said. It was the latest attack on the vaccination campaign, and health workers have been repeatedly targeted in recent years by Islamic militants.

The bombing on the outskirts of the city Quetta killed 13 policemen, a soldier and a civilian, said Shahzada Farhat, a police spokesman. He said 23 people were wounded.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives among the police officers, said provincial home minister Sarfraz Bugti. “We’re in a war zone,” he added.

The bombing happened outside the polio center shortly before vaccination teams were due to be dispatched to local neighborhoods as part of a three-day immunization campaign, said Syed Imtiaz Shah, the local police chief.

Hours after the attack, Ahmad Marwat, who described himself as a spokesman for Jundullah, or Army of God, a little-known militant group, claimed responsibility for the assault, without explaining why the center was targeted. He warned of more attacks on polio teams in the future.

Polio workers in Pakistan, and their police escorts, have been targeted in recent years by Islamic militants who accuse them of working as spies for the United States.

The attacks intensified after a Pakistani doctor was arrested on charges of running a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign in the city of Abbottabad as a cover for a CIA-backed effort to obtain DNA samples from Osama bin Laden ahead of the 2011 U.S. raid that killed him.