Malala Yousafzai shot, critically injured
TTP claims responsibility, president, PM, Nawaz, Imran, others condemn attack
MINGORA/PESHAWAR: In an incident that shocked the nation, Taliban militants shot and seriously injured National Peace Award winner Malala Yousafzai along with two other girls in the jurisdiction of the Saidu Sharif Police Station in Swat district on Tuesday.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Malakand Range, Akhtar Hayat Khan, and District Police Officer (DPO) Swat Rasool Shah told reporters that Malala Yousafzai was returning home along with other girls in a van (PSM-2719) from school when two gunmen interceptedinquired about her.
They said the gunmen opened fire after identifying her. She and two other girls sustained bullet injuries in the brazen and cowardly attack.She was shot in the head and was taken to the Saidu Sharif Hospital from where she was flown to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar in a military helicopter.
The doctors treating the young Malala after conducting different tests said that the next three to four days were crucial for her. It was also learnt that senior doctors from the Lady Reading Hospital also visited the CMH to assist the army doctors treating her.
Subsequently though, a medical board of doctors recommended flying the 14-year-old Malala abroad for specialised treatment to save her life.“Her condition is out of danger,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour told the media outside the CMH Peshawar. Bashir Bilour condemned the attack after visiting the hospital along with Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
Mian Iftikhar termed it a cowardly act and said such attacks could not stop the government from taking action against the militants. He said the militants had been weakened and the government would soon eliminate them.
A large number of media persons gathered outside the CMH to get updates about Malala’s condition. However, they were not allowed to enter the hospital where she was treated in the Intensive Care Unit.
The other two girls injured in the attack were identified as Shazia and Kainat. They suffered wounds in the hands and legs and were out of danger at the Saidu Sharif Hospital. Both the girls talked to reporters, including TV channels, earlier and described how the masked gunmen intercepted and then fired at Malala after identifying her. “We looked at Malala when the gunmen asked about her. And then they fired at her and we too got injured,” one of the injured girls said.
Earlier, the Saidu Sharif Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Lal Noor Afridi had told reporters that Malala had received a bullet in the head, but her condition was out of danger. She was shifted to the Combined Military Hospital as there was no Neurosurgery Unit at the Saidu Sharif Hospital.
A case was registered against the unknown attackers under the Anti-Terrorism Act at the Saidu Sharif Police Station.Meanwhile, the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack on Malala Yousafzai. TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told journalists from an undisclosed location that Malala was spreading anti-Taliban “secular thoughts” among the youth of the area. He said Malala would not be spared if she survived. “She was against the Taliban and that is the reason our men targeted her.”
President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Mian Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) head Imran Khan, Awami National Party (ANP) president Asfandyar Wali Khan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Syed Munawar Hassan, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kausar, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti and other leaders condemned the attack on Malala Yousafzai.
People from all over the country, while paying tributes to Malala Yousafzai, prayed for the early recovery of the brave teenaged girl.
Malala rose to prominence after being nominated by the Dutch organisation Kids Rights Foundation for bravely writing against the atrocities of the Taliban militants when they were calling the shots in Swat. She wrote diaries for the BBC Urdu service under the pseudonym “Gul Makai”.
She was desirous of playing an active role in politics after completing education. She was elected speaker of the Children’s Assembly, a forum organised by the UNICEF and the Khpal Kor, an educational institution for orphaned children in Mingora.
“I want to become an honest, committed and hard-working politician as our country badly needs political leaders,” Malala told journalists last year.
“I was so frightened while going to school today as the militants have said they will take revenge for the operation against Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid in Islamabad. But what is our fault,” Malala blogged for BBC Urdu on February 21, 2009 under the name, Gul Makai.
Meanwhile, the police and security forces arrested several suspects during a search operation after the attack on Malala Yousafzai.
The Private Schools Management Association in Swat and Shangla districts announced that all their schools would remain closed today (Thursday) in protest against the assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai.
Talking to reporters, chairman of the association in Swat, Ahmad Shah, and in Shangla, Gulab Shahpuri, said that Malala and the other girls were the daughters of the nation and the schools would be closed to lodge a protest against the cowardly act.
APP/AFP add: Surgeons treating Malala Yousafzai have recommended the government to send her abroad for treatment to save her life.
Quoting surgeons, who conducted her detailed checkup, official sources said that the single bullet, which hit her head, had pierced down to backbone. Swelling on the scull does not allow surgery right now, they added.
“In such a condition, she immediately needs a sophisticated surgical procedure, which is not possible in the country,” they said.
Meanwhile, the United States denounced the “barbaric” and “cowardly” Taliban attack on Malala Yousafzai. “We strongly condemn the shooting of Malala. Directing violence at children is barbaric, it’s cowardly, and our hearts go out to her and the others who were wounded, as well as their families,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.