FLICKR, UNICEF SVERIGEIn the middle of an intensive 3-day vaccination drive in areas at highest risk for disease, Taliban insurgents gunned down five people who were distributing vaccines for polio, which is still endemic in Pakistan. Officials have responded by suspending the vaccination efforts in the port city of Karachi, although some locations continue to carry on despite the risks.
The Taliban began targeting vaccination efforts after reports revealed that one doctor ran a fake polio vaccination clinic to help track down Osama bin Laden. Now militant groups suspect health workers of acting as spies for the United States. In addition, Taliban commanders have stated that vaccination efforts won’t proceed until US drone strikes in the country are stopped.
The intensive polio campaign, which started Monday and was supposed to run through Wednesday, was targeting children under the age of five. The Pakistani government and several United Nations agencies have teamed up to administer polio drops to 34 million children and have attempted to recruit clerics and tribal leaders to support the effort in areas inaccessible to health workers, reported the Associated Press.
(Hat tip to the Huffington Post)