(ISLAMABAD) — A Taliban commander in Pakistan has warned the U.S. that until CIA drone strikes end in North Waziristan, he will not allow UNICEF to give children polio vaccinations.
In announcing the ban, Hafiz Gul Bahadur claimed, “Almost every resident of North Waziristan has become a mental patient because of the drone strikes, which are worse than polio.”
Polio is still a major problem in Pakistan, where 198 active cases were reported in 2011, the highest number in the world.
Most of the 161,000 children affected by the decision received oral doses of polio vaccine two weeks ago but several more inoculations are necessary to help prevent them from possibly coming down with the disease.
Bahadur also speculated that the UNICEF program was a cover for U.S. espionage since a doctor who helped the U.S. with intelligence that led to the death of Osama bin Laden ran a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad where the al Qaeda leader’s compound was located. The physician has since been tried and convicted for treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Arwa Damon, Waffa Munayyer and Bryony Jones, CNN
Jessica Ivins, KSL.com
Catherine E. Shoichet, Max Blau and Steve Almasy, CNN
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN