At least nine women who were vaccinating children against polio have been shot dead in northern Nigeria by gunmen suspected of belonging to a radical Islamist sect.
The killings drew comparisons with a series of incidents in Pakistan last December where five female polio vaccinators were gunned down, apparently by Islamist militants. It also signalled a fresh wave of hostility towards immunisation drives in Nigeria, where some clerics have claimed the vaccines are part of a western plot to sterilise young girls and eliminate the Muslim population.
The attacks took place in Kano, the biggest city in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north, where families generally feel more comfortable allowing women inside their homes than men.
On Friday morning gunmen arrived by motor tricycle and opened fire in the Hotoro Hayi neighbourhood, killing at least eight female vaccinators, witnesses told Associated Press. Four people were killed in a second attack, in the Unguwa Uku neighbourhood, according to witnesses.
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