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Lashkar-e-Islam Relents, Releases Polio Workers

by AFP
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Farooq Naeem—AFP

Farooq Naeem—AFP

Tribal elders negotiated release of the anti-polio campaigners.

Militant group Lashkar-e-Islam has released the seven health workers it had kidnapped last week from federally-administered Khyber agency, local officials there said Tuesday.

The health workers, part of the polio vaccination campaign, were kidnapped on Nov. 21 from Bara. They were released, after mediation from a council of tribal elders, in Tirah Valley. A local intelligence official also confirmed the release.

“The polio workers have been released in Tirah Valley and they will reach Peshawar by tomorrow [Wednesday],” said Nasir Khan, a Khyber administration official. The kidnapped included four teachers from a private school, a male nurse, and two volunteers.

Efforts to stamp out polio have been crippled in Pakistan by repeated and often fatal attacks on health teams. Militant groups have rejected vaccination as a Western plot against Muslims and banned teams from giving out polio drops in some areas.

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