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Militants Ban Polio Vaccination In Northwest Pakistan In Response To U.S. Drone Strikes In Region

“A Pakistani militant group threatened action on Saturday against anyone conducting polio vaccinations in the region where it is based, saying the health care drive was a cover for U.S. spies,” Reuters reports, adding, “The group, based in North Waziristan and led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, said it had banned vaccinations for as long as U.S. drone aircraft continued to make missile strikes in Pakistan” (Mujtaba, 6/16). “The statement by Hafiz Gul Bahadur is an obstacle to efforts to beat polio in Pakistan, one of only three nations where the virus is endemic,” the Associated Press writes (6/17).

“‘On the one hand they are killing innocent women, children and old people in drone attacks and on the other they are spending millions on vaccination campaign,’ the statement distributed in the region’s main town Miranshah said,” Agence France-Presse notes (6/18). “The statement cited the case of Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, accused of running a fake vaccination campaign to help the CIA obtain DNA samples of Osama bin Laden and his family to confirm the al-Qaida leader’s presence at a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad,” VOA’s “Breaking News” blog adds (6/16). “The United States has pushed Pakistan to launch an offensive against the militant groups in North Waziristan, but Pakistani military officials have resisted, saying their troops are stretched too thin,” CNN writes (Sayah, 6/18).