UN chief: Polio killings in Pakistan 'cruel'

December 19, 2012 - 1:32 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling the killing of health workers trying to vaccinate Pakistani children against polio in a U.N.-backed campaign "cruel, senseless and inexcusable."

Gunmen killed a woman working on vaccination efforts and her driver Wednesday, raising to eight the number of people killed in the last 48 hours who were part of the immunization drive. Suspicion has fallen on the Pakistani Taliban because of their opposition to the polio campaign.

Ban said at his year-end news conference that the eight killed were among thousands across Pakistan "working selflessly to achieve the historic goal of polio eradication."

The killings Wednesday prompted the U.N. World Health Organization to suspend the vaccination drive in two of Pakistan's four provinces. Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic.