Originally published Dec 18, 13:00
The efforts against polio in Pakistan are scuttled.
Five female Pakistani polio vaccination workers have been fatally shot in a string of co-ordinated attacks – four within 20 minutes across Karachi.
The fifth woman was shot and wounded in the city of Peshawar in the north-west and later died of her injuries.
A UN-backed programme to eradicate polio – which is endemic in Pakistan – has been suspended in Karachi.
No group has said it carried out the shootings, but the Taliban have issued threats against the polio drive.
“These were pre-planned and co-ordinated attacks in various localities which took place within a span of 20 minutes,” Imran Javed, a police spokesman told the BBC of Tuesday’s attacks in Karachi.
Thanks to the really AWFUL idea of the CIA to use vaccination as a cover to spy on Osama bin Laden, there is now a stigma attached to these immunization programs. Pakistan has an epidemic of polio – a disease that is eradicated in modern countries thanks to widespread vaccination. Now, the idea of dangerous vaccines is associated with a political motive.
UPDATE: (19-Dec-2012) And it continues. This is horrible.
Three workers in a polio eradication campaign were shot in Pakistan on Wednesday, and two of them were killed, the latest in an unprecedented string of attacks over the past three days that has partially halted the U.N.-backed campaign.
The United Nations in Pakistan has pulled all staff involved in the campaign off the streets, spokesman Michael Coleman said.
Wednesday saw four separate attacks, all in the north.
Hours earlier, gunmen wounded a male health worker in the nearby provincial capital of Peshawar. He was in critical condition, said a doctor at the Lady Reading Hospital where he is being treated.
Four other women health workers were shot at but not hit in nearby Nowshera, said Jan Baz Afridi, deputy head of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation. Two women health workers were shot at in Dwasaro village in Charsadda, police said.
Many Islamists, including Taliban militants, have long opposed the campaign. Some say it aims to sterilize Muslims, while one militant commander said it could not continue unless attacks by U.S. drone aircraft stopped.
The U.N. suspends immunization. Very troubling.
A past story describes another distorted view of the issue – Muslim cleric declares jihad in response to polio vaccination campaign.