PESHAWAR, (Reuters) – Gunmen in Pakistan shot and seriously wounded on Tuesday a 14-year-old schoolgirl who rose to fame for speaking out against Taliban militants, authorities said.
Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head and neck when gunmen fired on her school bus in the Swat valley, northwest of the capital, Islamabad. Two other girls were also wounded, police said.
Yousufzai became famous for speaking out against the Pakistani Taliban at a time when even the government seemed to be appeasing the hardline Islamists.
The government agreed to a ceasefire with the Taliban in Swat in early 2009, effectively recognizing insurgent control of the valley whose lakes and mountains had long been a tourist attraction.
The Taliban set up courts, executed residents and closed girls’ schools, including the one that Yousufzai attended. A documentary team filmed her weeping as she explained her ambition to be a doctor.
The army launched an offensive and retook control of Swat later that year, and Yousufzai later received the country’s highest civilian award. She was also nominated for international awards for child activists.
Since then, she has received numerous threats. On Tuesday, gunmen arrived at her school and asked for her by name, witnesses told police. Yousufzai was shot when she came out of class and went to a bus.
Doctors were struggling to save her, said Lal Noor, a doctor at the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital in the valley’s main town of Mingora.