TTP deny anti-polio attacks

MIRANSHAH: The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan(TTP) on Friday denied any involvement in attacks on polio workers, which have killed 21 people since December, but confirmed it opposed the vaccination

The TTP last year banned polio vaccinations in the tribal region of Waziristan, alleging the campaign was a cover for espionage.

Rumours about vaccines being a plot to sterilise Muslims have also dogged efforts to tackle the highly infectious disease.

“We have no link with the attacks on polio teams,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) told AFP.

“We have very strong reservations against anti-polio vaccines because they are un-Islamic and bad for the health,” Ehsan said.

He said Pakistanis do not need “sympathy” from the United Nations, which funds vaccination programmes, while US drone strikes target people living in the northwestern border areas with Afghanistan.

Polio cases in Pakistan hit 198 in 2011, the highest figure for more than a decade and the most of any country in the world, according to the UN.

Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only two other countries were the disease is endemic.