Pakistan buries murdered aid staff


Hundreds of Pakistani villagers have turned out for the funerals of aid workers and teachers who were shot by militants in the country's northwest.

Family and friends today buried two of the female teachers, along with a female health worker and a male medical technician.

The four were among seven people killed yesterday when their vehicle was raked with gunfire as they were on their way home from a children’s community centre in the town of Swabi,  about 75km northwest of the capital of Islamabad. There has been no claim of responsibility, and no arrests have been made.

The director of the charity said he suspected the attack might have been retribution for the group's work helping vaccinate Pakistani children against polio.

The victims worked at the centre for aid agency Support With Working Solutions, whose head Javed Akhtar said they had told their other 160 staff to suspend work.

The organisation was involved in health education in underdeveloped parts of the country, Mr Akhtar said. It had run a school and dispensary in Swabi and helped vaccinate children against polio.

Two weeks ago, gunmen killed nine health workers taking part in a national polio vaccination drive in a series of attacks. Most of the victims were young women.

The Taliban said it did not carry out those attacks although its leaders have repeatedly denounced the vaccination programme as a plot to sterilise people.