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2 detained for polio vaccinators’s killings in Afghanistan

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KUNDUZ: Taliban said two suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing of seven polio vaccinators last month.  

A total of eight polio vaccinators had been killed, seven in Kunduz and one in the neighboring province of Takhar on February 24.

“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 told western media.

The National Resistance Front (NRF) is led by the son of legendary late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.

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

The scenic Panjshir Valley is famed as the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s, during the group’s first stint in power.

Its most revered figure is Massoud, known as the “Lion of Panjshir”, who was assassinated by Al-Qaeda in 2001, two days before the September 11 attacks.

His son Ahmad Massoud has since picked up the mantle, and reports have surfaced of his apparent efforts to organize resistance with other exiled Afghan leaders.

The Kunduz police spokesman said the two arrested men had also confessed that “they were paid” for murdering the vaccinators.

The National Resistance Front was not available for immediate comment on the police statement.

Polio teams in Afghanistan had been frequently targeted by insurgent groups until the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August.

Since then, the group has said they want to work with the United Nations to stamp out the disease.

The health workers were killed in separate attacks in the northern province of Kunduz while working in a house-to-house campaign to eradicate the crippling virus.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only two countries in the world where polio has not been eradicated.

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