A cleric in Pakistan's Punjab province has warned that a jihad would be launched against polio vaccination teams at a time when the World Health Organisation has expressed concern at the emergence of new cases of the disease across the country.

Maulvi Ibrahim Chisti of Muzaffargarh district declared the anti-polio campaign as "un-Islamic" and announced at the local mosque that jihad (holy war) should be carried out against the polio vaccination team.

Chisti made the remarks after finding out that a vaccination team had entered Khan Pur Bagga Sher area of Muzaffargarh and asked families to cooperate with the campaign.

The cleric went to the largest mosque in the area and declared that polio drops were "poison" and against Islam, The Express Tribune reported.

He warned that if the vaccination team forced anyone to participate in the campaign, then jihad was "the only option".

As a result, the polio team returned to Muzaffargarh city without carrying out any immunisation and reported the matter to senior officials.

A police inquiry was ordered and a raid was conducted in the cleric's area.

However, Chisti escaped by the time the police arrived.

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