Pakistan: Eight working on polio killed in 48 hours

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Gunmen shot dead a woman working on U.N.-backed polio vaccination efforts and her driver in northwestern Pakistan today, officials said, raising to eight the number of people who were part of the immunization drive killed in the last 48 hours.

The attack on the woman was one of five that took place on polio workers in northwestern Pakistan today. One male polio worker was critically wounded, while the others managed to escape unharmed.

The recent killings prompted the U.N.’s public health arm to suspend work on the vaccination drive in two of Pakistan’s four provinces today, a major setback for a campaign that international health officials consider vital to contain the crippling disease but which Taliban insurgents say is a cover for espionage.

The number of attacks this week on polio workers is unprecedented. They came as the government started a three-day vaccination drive Monday targeting high risk areas of the country, part of an effort to immunize millions of children under the age of five.

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