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Tuesday, 18 December 2012
Five polio workers shot dead in Pakistan
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From The Telegraph and the Daily Mail

Gunmen on motorbikes shot dead five female Pakistani polio vaccination workers on Tuesday, police said, highlighting resistance to the country's immunisation campaign.

Four were killed in three different incidents in the sprawling port city and the fifth in the northwestern city of Peshawar, on the second day of a nationwide three-day drive against the disease, which is endemic in Pakistan.

Sagheer Ahmed, the health minister for Sindh province, of which Karachi is capital, said he had ordered a halt to the anti-polio drive in the city in the wake of the shootings. Senior Karachi police officer Shahid Hayat said another polio worker was shot dead in the city on Monday, but the circumstances of his death only became clear on Tuesday.

In Peshawar, which lies close to the restive tribal areas, a haven for militants and hotspot for polio, two attackers on a motorbike fired on two sisters working on vaccination, killing one. The Taliban have banned immunisations in the northwest, condemning the campaign as a cover for espionage

Tuesday's killings in Karachi took place in parts of the city dominated by Pashtuns, Hayat said. Pashtuns are the dominant ethnic group in northwest Pakistan and have a sizeable migrant population in Karachi.

The attacks in Karachi were coordinated and occurred within 15 minutes in three different areas of the city that are far apart. In each case, the gunmen used 9mm pistols. The victims were shot in the head at close range . . . Two of the women were 18 and 19, and the other two were in their 40s. Two of the women were killed while they were in a house giving children polio drops. The other two were travelling between houses when they were attacked,

WHO, a partner in government efforts to eradicate the disease, suspended vaccination activities in part of Pakistan's largest city in July after a spate of bloody shootings. A UN doctor from Ghana working on polio eradication and his driver were shot in part of Karachi and three days later a local community worker who was part of the same campaign was shot dead in the same area.

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Posted on 12/18/2012 2:30 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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