In Pakistan hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral of another victim of the attacks on UN-backed polio eradication teams. The total number of deaths has now risen to nine.
“No one is against the campaign. We are not able to understand why suddenly this wave of violence started against the anti-polio vaccination teams. We have some pre-apprehension that this is all about postponing the general election,” said one man attending the funeral.
Demonstrations against the killings were held in Islamabad while an alliance of Pakistani clerics has added its voice to the protest. Twenty-four-thousand mosques are set to preach against the killings during Friday prayers in what is interpreted as a challenge to violent militants by the country’s powerful clergy.
No group has claimed responsibility for the killings. The United Nations has withdrawn staff from the campaign and it has been suspended in some parts of the country.
It has been claimed the programme is a plot to sterilise Muslim women or to spy on them. It was revealed last year the CIA had used the cover of a fake campaign to gather intelligence on Osama bin Laden.
Pakistan is one of only three countries where the crippling disease is endemic.
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