Masked Men Kidnap Polio Workers

This Monday masked gunmen kidnapped a six member polio vaccination team  which included a doctor, two local employees of the World Health Organization (WHO) and three guards in the northwest region of Pakistan, an official informed. The local administration official Niamat Ullah Khan said that the team was seized approximately 300 kilometers from the southwest of Peshawar, in Ping village located at the border of South Waziristan.

The local official of the WHO working in Peshawar confirmed the incident. The kidnapping is one of the many attacks on the polio workers of Pakistan and the latest setback on efforts to eradicate the disease in Pakistan. This kidnapping took place following a bombing on Sunday that targeted a polio team in Peshawar. The incident also killed a policeman at the incident. Pakistan is one of the only three countries in world where the crippling virus called polio is still endemic. The other two countries are Afghanistan and Nigeria. Peshawar is considered ‘the largest polio virus reservoir of the world’ by the WHO. None of the Taliban groups have claimed responsibility for the kidnapping so far but militant groups consider the vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage, and also believe in the long running rumors that say that polio drops cause infertility.

More than 40 people, which included health workers and police guarding the polio team’s drops to children, have been killed in Pakistan since the December of 2012. A new campaign around the city of Peshawar, started early this month is planned to continue until April. The campaign teams go door-to-door every Sunday to administer vaccinations to children for diseases including polio, tuberculosis, tetanus, whooping cough, measles and hepatitis.

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