Peshawar - Militants
released on Tuesday 11 teachers who had been kidnapped in Pakistan's lawless
northwest during a polio vaccination campaign last week, local officials said.
were seized by Islamist militants on 21 November from a school in the Khyber
tribal agency, one of the semi autonomous tribal areas along border with
abducted just after a team giving polio vaccinations had left the school and
the militants may have mistaken them for the polio team, Khyber official Niaz
Ahmad Khan said.
moved to an area controlled by militant leader Mangal Bagh and his
Taliban-affiliated group, Lashkar-e-Islam.
Khan said a
group of tribal elders, known as a jirga, was sent to secure the teachers'
militants co-operated with the jirga members and freed all the
abducted...teachers," said Khan.
elder, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the militants freed the
teachers on condition the government stop sending polio teams to the area.
frequently attack polio vaccination workers, accusing them of being Western
spies and part of a plot to sterilise Muslims.
eradication campaign has reduced polio cases by 99.9% in the last three
decades, but it remains endemic in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The
disease is highly infectious and can cause irreversible paralysis.