Pakistan tribal elders in talks to free polio workers

Tirah Valley, Khyber region, Pakistan

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Tribal elders in Pakistan's north-western Khyber region are reportedly negotiating with suspected militants to release kidnapped polio workers.

The workers, said to be four teachers involved in a polio vaccination scheme for schoolchildren, were taken from a school in the Bara area.

Polio vaccination workers are often targeted for kidnap by militants, accused of being Western spies or part of a plot to sterilise Muslims.

Polio remains endemic in Pakistan.

This is partly due to militant resistance to polio vaccination campaigns, say correspondents.

A senior government official in Bara told the AFP news agency that the group behind the kidnappings was Lashkar-e-Islam.

"Tribal jirga has started negotiations with Lashkar-e-Islam people," the official said. "We are hopeful for the early release of polio workers."

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