Pakistan tribesmen negotiate to release 7 polio workers

Pakistan’s government is holding talks with militant group Lashkar-e-Islam to release polio workers

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Pakistan tribesmen were negotiating on Saturday to release seven polio workers who were kidnapped earlier this week by a militant group from the northwestern Khyber tribal district, officials said.

Authorities said the workers were kidnapped on Thursday from the Bara area by Lashkar-e-Islam, the militant group in the country's Khyber tribal district, while carrying out a polio vaccination campaign.

Two government officials in Khyber said the workers included four teachers of a private school, a male nurse and two volunteers.

“Tribal jirga has started negotiations with Lashkar-e-Islam people. We are hopeful for the early release of polio workers,” a senior government official in Bara told AFP.

Broad daylight

The second official said the abduction occurred in broad daylight when the workers were busy vaccinating the children.


“Now the jirga is requesting them to release the abducted workers,” the second official said.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic, but efforts to stamp out the crippling disease have been hit by repeated attacks on health teams.

Militant groups in the restive country have rejected vaccination as a Western plot against Muslims and banned teams from giving out polio drops in some areas which has hampered efforts to vaccinate children against polio.

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