Skip to main content

Pakistan condemns anti-polio volunteers' killings

By Matt Smith, CNN
updated 1:55 AM EDT, Mon June 17, 2013
File photo of a May attack of polio vaccinators in Peshawar, Pakistan. The government condemned a similar attack that killed two on Sunday.
File photo of a May attack of polio vaccinators in Peshawar, Pakistan. The government condemned a similar attack that killed two on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The volunteers were killed Sunday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • Vaccination programs have been targeted by Islamic militants
  • Pakistan had 58 cases of polio in 2012
  • The CIA used a fake vaccine program to verify bin Laden's location

(CNN) -- Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the Sunday killings of two polio vaccination volunteers in the country's northwest, calling their slayings "cowardly and inhuman."

The workers were shot to death while visiting homes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwestern Pakistan, police said. Islamic militants have targeted anti-polio campaigns since U.S. intelligence used a fake vaccination program to aid its hunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, with 58 cases reported in 2012, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. In a statement issued by his office, Zardari said the volunteers died in service of a "noble cause" and called for tighter security for the effort.

"While condemning the death of the two polio volunteers, the president said that such cowardly and inhuman acts of the militants and extremists can not deter the strong resolve of government to eradicate polio from the country," the statement said.

Polio aid workers killed in Pakistan

The CIA used a fake vaccine program to collect DNA from residents of bin Laden's compound to verify the al Qaeda leader's presence before a May 2011 raid that killed him. Bin Laden had been holed up in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, about 60 miles north of the capital, Islamabad.

Sunday's killings capped a bloody weekend dominated by a bus bombing and hospital siege in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan. Militants attacked a university bus carrying women, then struck the hospital where the survivors were taken for treatment, authorities said Saturday.

The 28 dead included 14 women killed on the bus, along with four nurses, four police officers and four militants, police said. At one point, the attackers held hundreds of patients, physicians and nurses hostage as they battled security forces.

Earlier Saturday, assailants bombed the home of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Pakistani state, in Balochistan, killing a police officer and wounding an employee, authorities said. Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar said Sunday that there was a "secret war" going on in the province, and the government had to work "with all the parties involved" to bring it to an end.

"The government is ready to hold talks with those that believe in dialogue," he said. "But the government will not hold talks with those that propagate and practice extremism."

CNN's Aliza Kassim contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
updated 2:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT