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Pakistan: UN doctor shot while giving polio vaccines

A doctor was shot and injured today while giving polio vaccines in Karachi, Pakistan.

Pakistan polio vaccination 17 7 2012Enlarge
Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic. The Taliban's resistance to a vaccination drive is estimated to have denied hundreds of thousands of children protection from the disease. (NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

A UN doctor was shot today as he administered polio vaccines in Karachi, Pakistan.

He was traveling in a World Health Organization vehicle when gunmen opened fire, Agence France Presse reported.

Both the doctor, who is from Ghana, and a Pakistani driver were injured in the attack, a WHO spokeswoman told the news agency. Their condition is said to be stable.

More from GlobalPost: Taliban bans polio vaccinations in Pakistan

The shooting comes in the middle of the WHO's three-day, nationwide polio vaccination drive for children under five, the Associated Press said.

The campaign was the subject of threats from the Taliban, who said they would not allow immunizations in the northwest of the country until the US halted its drone strikes in the region.

The rebels have apparently become suspicious of medical personnel after a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden under the cover of going door-to-door to give hepatitis vaccinations. 

It's not yet clear whether the Taliban were involved in today's shooting, or whether the WHO team was simply caught in crossfire. Police are still investigating whether the doctor was targeted deliberately, a spokesman told AFP.

One WHO volunteer was beaten up in the capital, Islamabad, yesterday as he attempted to administer the vaccine, the Express Tribune reported.

A "significant number" of the 34 million children that the WHO aimed to immunize this week will be denied access to the vaccine due to the Taliban's resistance, the paper said. Some 350,000 children are estimated to be at risk.

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