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Polio Campaign Begins In Southwestern Pakistan

A boy reacts as he is being administered polio vaccine drops by anti-polio vaccination workers along a street in Quetta on January 2.

Pakistani health officials say a special five-day antipolio campaign is being launched in the country's southwest, where traces of polio virus were found in the sewer system.

Some 400,000 children under five will be vaccinated during the campaign in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province, said Syed Faisal Ahmed, the coordinator for Emergency Operation Center in the city.

Ahmed said on January 2 that 1,345 teams will cover 39 local councils of the city amid tight security.

The official urged parents, clerics, and community leaders to support the campaign.

Following multiple antipolio campaigns, Pakistan announced last year that the polio virus had largely been eliminated in the country.

Pakistan hopes to be removed from the list of polio-endemic countries by 2018 by achieving its goal of no new cases for a year.

In April 2016, the World Health Organization said that there had been at least 10 cases of the paralyzing disease in the first quarter of the year -- all of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Militants often target polio vaccinators in Pakistan, saying the vaccination campaign is a cover for Western spies or a conspiracy to sterilize Pakistani children.

Based on reporting by AP and Dawn