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Taliban Alleged To Have Stopped Annual Polio Vaccination Program In Rural Afghanistan

“The Taliban have halted an annual polio vaccination campaign in a remote part of Afghanistan, according to a senior official, raising concerns that opposition to the critical immunization drive could be spilling across from insurgent groups in neighboring Pakistan,” the Guardian reports. Tamim Nuristani, governor of the remote Nuristan province, said the Taliban have stopped vaccination programs in the Waygal and Kamdesh districts, and he added, “They are saying in terms of religion it is a problem and we have to stop it,” according to the newspaper. “A spokesman for the Taliban confirmed that the anti-polio campaign was stopped in parts of Nuristan, but denied the insurgent group played any role,” the Guardian writes. “The U.N., which helps organize the national vaccination program, said the Afghan Taliban had not generally tried to prevent health care workers reaching children,” the newspaper states, noting, “But there are believed to be a high number of foreign fighters among insurgents in Nuristan, many of them with very extreme views” (Graham-Harrison/Amiri, 3/12).