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January 31, 2013
Roadside bomb kills two polio workers in NW Pakistan

PARACHINAR, Pakistan (AP) -- A roadside bomb killed two Pakistani polio workers on their way to vaccinate children in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border on Thursday, an official said.

The two men were on their way to Malikhel village as part of the U.N.-backed anti-polio campaign when the bomb hit their motorcycle, said government administrator Yousuf Rahim.

The attack -- the third this week against polio workers in Pakistan -- took place in the Kurram region, a known militant stronghold.

Rahim said it was not immediately clear if the two workers killed Thursday were the actual target of the bombing.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but suspicion fell on Islamic militants.

Some of the militants oppose the vaccination campaign, accuse health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the crippling disease is endemic. The virus usually infects children living in unsanitary conditions; it attacks the nerves and can kill or paralyze. As many as 56 polio cases were reported in Pakistan during 2012, down from 190 the previous year, according to the United Nations.

(15 images)




A Pakistani schoolgirl, who was displaced with her family from Pakistan's tribal areas due to fighting between militants and the army, receives a polio vaccine from a health worker, while other children wait their turn, at their school in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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A Pakistani schoolgirl, who was displaced with her family from Pakistan's tribal areas due to fighting between militants and the army, receives a polio vaccine from a health worker, at her school in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani schoolchildren, who were displaced with their families from Pakistan's tribal areas due to fighting between militants and the army, attend an exam, while a health worker visits their school to give polio vaccines, unseen, in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani schoolchildren, who were displaced with their families from Pakistan's tribal areas due to fighting between militants and the army, look for their shoes while other enter a classroom, as a health worker visits their school to give polio vaccines, in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani schoolgirls, who were displaced with their families from Pakistan's tribal areas due to fighting between militants and the army, attend an English language class in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani schoolgirls, who were displaced with their families from Pakistan's tribal areas due to fighting between militants and the army, listen to their teacher, not seen in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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A Pakistani woman sits outside her home, as children stand on a wooden bridge over sewage and rubbish, while health workers, not seen, visit house to house to give polio vaccines for children, in a neighborhood in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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A Pakistani police officer, left, stands guard while health worker Shahida Akram, 41, prepares polio vaccines to be given for children in a neighborhood in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. Some Islamic militants oppose the vaccination campaign, accuse health workers of acting as spies for the U.S. and claim the polio vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile. Pakistan is one of the few remaining places where polio is still rampant. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani health workers gives a polio vaccine to child, at a Kindergarten in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani health worker Shahida Akram, 41, gives a polio vaccine to a child, in a neighborhood in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani health workers give polio vaccines to children, at a Kindergarten in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani health worker Irba Allahdad, 23, right, marks a wall of a home after giving a child living there a polio vaccine, in a neighborhood in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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A Pakistani man holds his son as a health worker prepares to give the child a polio vaccine, in a neighborhood in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani health worker Shahida Akram, 41, right, gives a polio vaccine to a boy, in a neighborhood in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. AP / Muhammed Muheisen
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Pakistani relatives and mourners of a polio worker, who was killed in a roadside bomb, pray next to his body, during his funeral procession in Parachinar, capital of Pakistan's tribal region of Kurram along the Afghanistan border, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. A roadside bomb killed two Pakistani polio workers on their way to vaccinate children in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border on Thursday, an official said. AP / Dilawar Hussain

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