- - Wednesday, December 19, 2012

PESHAWAR — The United Nations on Wednesday suspended its polio-vaccination drive in Pakistan after eight people involved in the effort were fatally shot in the past two days, a U.N. official said.

The suspension was a grave blow to the drive to bring an end to the scourge of polio in Pakistan, one of just three countries where the crippling disease survives.

On Wednesday, gunmen shot at a woman working on the campaign in northwestern Pakistan, killing her and her driver, one of five attacks during the day on polio workers. A male polio-immunization worker was critically wounded in one of the shootings.

This week, six other people have been killed who were working on the immunization program, which has been conducted jointly with the Pakistani government.

No one has claimed responsibility, but some Islamic extremists charge that the program is a cover for espionage.

MEXICO

22 killed in escape bid at northern prison

MEXICO CITY — A public security official said the death toll in a shootout during an attempted prison break in northern Mexico has risen to 22 people.

The official in Durango state said the toll rose to 13 inmates and nine prison guards as some of those injured in the shooting later died of their wounds.

Guards foiled a massive escape on Tuesday at the prison in Gomez Palacio city.

A statement from the public safety department said inmates tried to climb the prison’s back walls. When guards fired into the air to stop them, inmates returned fire at the watchtowers and guard areas.

Authorities said Wednesday they were investigating how the inmates acquired the guns.

ALGERIA

French president wants new era with Algeria

ALGIERS — French President Francois Hollande announced a new era with Algeria on Wednesday — a strategic partnership among equals — during a state visit to this North African nation, which once was a prized colony in the French empire.

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