The six women and one man were traveling in a van when gunmen on motorcycles stopped it Tuesday afternoon after it left a children's community center, according to Abdur Rasheed Khan, chief of the Swabi police force. The four gunmen took a 4-year-old boy belonging to one of the women from the van, and then raked the vehicle with gunfire, he said. The child was unharmed and was later turned over to police by bystanders, he said.
These murders come a few weeks after nine health workers with national polio campaign were killed in different parts of the country in what police said was a coordinated attack. That prompted the Pakistani government and the United Nations agencies to suspend their vaccination drive for the disease, which has seen a uptick in cases in recent years.
Pakistan is one out of the three countries where polio persists; at least 57 cases were registered in 2012. The World Health Organization last year warned Pakistan that it could face travel and visa restrictions and sanctions imposed by other countries if polio continues to spread.