Gunmen in Nigeria killed nine female health workers in attacks today on polio vaccination centers in the northern city of Kano, police said.
The attackers killed two women in the Kashu Unguwa Uku district and seven others in the Hotoro Haye area, as they gathered at health centers to begin a government-backed polio vaccination campaign, Magaji Musa Majiya, a spokesman for the police in Kano, said by phone. Four women were injured in the attacks and are receiving treatment at a hospital, he said.
Nigeria is one of three countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, where polio hasn’t been eradicated according to the World Health Organization, or WHO. Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the WHO is pushing for the worldwide eradication of polio. Efforts to end the disease in Nigeria have faced campaigns by some Islamist groups that immunization is a Western plot to sterilize Muslims.
Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, has carried out gun and bomb attacks in the mainly Muslim north and the capital, Abuja, in which hundreds have been killed since 2009. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people, has a largely Christian south.
Polio, which mainly affects children under five years, is a viral infection that invades the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours.