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Afghan group rejects murdering polio vaccinators

KUNDUZ, AFGHANISTAN (AFP) – An Afghan group opposed to Taleban rule rejected yesterday the police’s accusation that its members had killed polio vaccinators on a campaign to eradicate the crippling virus.

Police had said two members of the National Resistance Front (NRF) had been arrested in connection with killing seven vaccinators on February 24 in the northern province of Kunduz.

The NRF were the last group to hold out against the Taleban takeover last year, retreating to the Panjshir Valley, which eventually fell in September, weeks after the former government forces capitulated.

The health workers were killed in separate attacks while on a house-to-house vaccine campaign.

“The arrested men have confessed to their crime and said they shot the polio vaccinators after receiving orders from their leaders from the Resistance Front in the province,” Kunduz police spokesman Qari Obaidullah Abedi had told AFP.

The spokesman said the arrested men also confessed that “they were paid” for the murders.

NRF rejected the accusations as “Taleban propaganda”.

“The NRF condemns the perpetrators of this attack and we strongly believe it was conducted by the Taleban or one of their terrorist partners,” NRF spokesman Ali Nazary told AFP.

The NRF is led by the son of legendary late anti-Taleban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated by Al-Qaeda in 2001.

In total, eight polio vaccinators were killed on February 24 – seven in Kunduz and one in the neighbouring province of Takhar.