Pakistani militants release 7 kidnapped teachers
Pakistani militants have released seven teachers they had kidnapped during an anti-polio drive in the country`s restive northwest, according to a media report today.
Islamabad: Pakistani militants have released seven teachers they had kidnapped during an anti-polio drive in the country`s restive northwest, according to a media report today.
The banned Lashkar-e-Islam, which is based in Bara area of Khyber Agency, yesterday released all teachers of a private school it had abducted after questioning them for four days regarding their involvement in the polio vaccination campaign.
Initial reports had said 11 teachers were kidnapped but officials later clarified only seven had been abducted.
Hira Public School principal Mohammad Qasim, who was among the abducted teachers, said he and his colleagues were set free by the Lashkar-e-Islam.
He said they had reached their homes, according to a report in the Dawn daily.
Though the outlawed group did not claim responsibility for the kidnappings, its involvement in the act was an open secret in Bara, including among officials of the political administration.
Qasim claimed the teachers were "called" by the Lashkar-e-Islam`s council to explain their role in the polio vaccination campaign in Bara.
"Security forces and Khasadars entered my school without permission and without any prior notice (for) administering polio vaccines to the children in the school," he said.
He alleged security forces herded the teachers to a corner of the school and ordered health workers to administer polio drops to children aged under five, the report said.
Qasim said he and other local residents were opposed to polio vaccination and had not allowed children to be immunised in the past. He claimed he would permanently close his school if security forces tried to force him to help in the polio campaign.
Militants frequently attack polio vaccination workers, accusing them of being Western spies and part of a plot to "sterilise" Muslims. On June 19 last year, the Taliban imposed a ban on polio vaccinations in parts of the tribal belt. They said the restriction would last till US drone attacks ceased.
As a result, some 260,000 children in Waziristan have not been vaccinated against polio since July 2012.
The number of polio cases in Pakistan touched 62 this year, up four from the figure for the whole of last year.