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Save the Children offices closed

Pakistan has shut the offices of the international aid group Save the Children in the capital, Islamabad, without giving any reason, officials say.

Pakistani officials placed a lock on the gate of the group's offices and asked employees to leave.

The officials also told Pakistani employees that the government wanted all foreign nationals working with the charity to leave the country within 15 days. Officials said the action was taken on orders from the Ministry of Interior.

In a statement released to the media, Save the Children confirmed that its office in Islamabad had been closed by the government.

"Save the Children was not served any notice to this effect. We strongly object to this action and are raising our serious concerns at the highest levels," it said.

It added that the group has worked in Pakistan for over 35 years and that currently it has 1,200 employees nationwide - none of them a foreign national.

Last year, the group's programmes in health, education and food security reached more than 4 million children and their families, it said.

"All our work is designed and delivered in close collaboration with the government ministries across the country, and aims to strengthen public service delivery systems in health, nutrition, education and child welfare," it continued.

Save the Children has previously been accused by Pakistani intelligence agencies of facilitating a Pakistani doctor's vaccinations programme in the city of Abbottabad as cover for the CIA to obtain DNA samples at a compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was later killed by US commandos.


From Belfast Telegraph