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Pakistan Suspends Anti-Polio Drive After Deadly Attacks On Vaccination Teams


Relatives sit beside the body of a female polio vaccinator who was killed by unidentified gunman in Chaman on April 25.

Pakistani health officials have suspended a nationwide anti-polio campaign following the killings in less than a week of a health worker and two policemen escorting vaccination teams.

Health officials on April 27 confirmed to RFE/RL that the campaign to eradicate the crippling disease has been suspended, despite the recent reporting of two new polio cases in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

But militant threats, deep-rooted superstition, and opposition to vaccination by some local clerics have prompted many parents to refuse to have their children vaccinated there.

Authorities say unidentified gunmen targeted polio workers and police assigned to protect them in three separate attacks during the past week.

All of the attacks were in rural regions of Pakistan -- including one attack close to the border with Afghanistan, where polio also remains endemic.

With reporting by AP
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    Radio Mashaal was launched in January 2010 in order to counter a growing number of Islamic extremist radio stations in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

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