12/19/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Taliban war against polio: two more volunteers wounded, after those slain yesterday

The attacks against anti-polio vaccination volunteers took place in Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda. Yesterday, five women were killed in Karachi and Peshawar, two days ago, a man in Karachi. For months, the Taliban have threatened to stop the vaccinations in protest against the assaults of U.S. drones.

Peshawar (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Three groups of anti-polio volunteers were attacked by assailants in motion in Peshawar, Nowshera and Charsadda in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (North-west Pakistan), near the Afghan border. One of the volunteers was wounded in Peshawar, in Charsadda instead a passer-by was injured, but the volunteers unharmed. Yesterday, five people involved in the vaccination campaign were killed in Karachi and Peshawar. The authors of these attacks are unknown, but it is almost certain that they are related to the Taliban who for months have declared war against the anti-polio vaccination. For months, the Islamist guerrillas threatened to block the health campaign to protest against the assaults of U.S. drones.

Pakistan is one of three countries in the world - along with Afghanistan and Nigeria - where polio is endemic. In the country thousands of parents refuse to vaccinate their children against polio under the pressure from imams and Islamic radicals.

The killings yesterday, the bloodiest to date, took place in Karachi and Peshawar. All of the victims were women. In Karachi, the volunteers were targeted as they went door to door to offer the vaccine. The attacks took place in two different neighborhoods, in Orangi Town and Baldia Town a short distance from each other. The police assumed that they were organized by the same group.

Yesterday, another woman, 18 year-old Amna, also a member of the anti-polio campaign, was killed in the village of Mathra, near Peshawar. The day before, in Karachi, a man who worked for the World Health Organization was killed.

Government authorities have promised that these attacks will not stop the anti-polio campaign.

 

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