Schoolgirl shot by Taliban critical


PESHAWAR – A Pakistani schoolgirl fighting for her life after being shot by Taliban gunmen was transferred yesterday from a hospital in a province that is a militant haven to a specialist hospital in the army garrison town of Rawalpindi.

Malala Yousufzai (14) was unconscious and in a critical condition after being shot in the head and neck as she left school on Tuesday, but doctors said she had moved her arms and legs slightly the night before.

Pakistani surgeons removed a bullet on Wednesday from Ms Yousufzai, who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls. Her courage made her a national hero. The shooting has been condemned by world leaders and many Pakistanis.

Ms Yousufzai began standing up to the Pakistani Taliban when she was just 11, when the government had effectively ceded control of the Swat Valley where she lives to the militants.

Her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, who runs a girls’ school, said his daughter had defied threats for years, believing the good work she was doing for her community was her best protection.

A Reuters correspondent watched as she was moved from an army hospital in the regional capital of Peshawar to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi to help her treatment. “Pray for her,” her distraught uncle, Faiz Mohammad, said before the ambulance left.

Ms Yousufzai was shot with two other girls on Tuesday as she left school in Swat, northwest of Islamabad. One of the girls is out of danger and the other remains in critical condition.

A Taliban spokesman said she was targeted for trying to spread western culture and that they would try to kill her again if she survived. Authorities have identified her attackers, said regional governor Masood Kausar. The local government has posted a 10 million rupee reward for their capture.

“The security agencies are closely working with each other and they have a lot of information about the perpetrators. We hope our security agencies will soon capture them and bring them to justice,” he said.

The attack outraged many in Pakistan, with small, impromptu rallies held in her support in many cities. Pakistan’s president, prime minister, and heads of various opposition parties joined Amnesty International and the United Nations in condemning the attack.