Three radio journalists have been arrested in northern Nigeria after allegedly sparking the killings of at least nine women, who were shot while trying to administer polio vaccines.
Gunmen in taxis attacked the women as they prepared to give oral drop vaccines to children in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north, on Friday. Witnesses later said they saw at least 12 dead from the attack.
Police claimed on-air comments made earlier by journalists on Wazobia FM apparently discussing fears about a vaccination campaign in the area inflamed tensions and caused the killings. Some people believe the vaccine causes sterilisation in girls.
The Kano state police chief , Ibrahim Idris, ordered the immediate arrest of the journalists after the attack. Two journalists are still in custody, while the third was released on bail, police confirmed.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though suspicion has fallen on the sect known as Boko Haram, which is waging a campaign of guerrilla shootings and bombings across northern Nigeria.
In 2003, a Kano doctor heading the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria said the vaccines were “corrupted and tainted by evildoers from America and their Western allies”.