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14-year-old girl who spoke against Taliban struggles to survive after being shot

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A 14-year-old Pakistani girl who won international acclaim for an essay speaking out against the brutal repression in her native country is now fighting for her life after being shot in the head and neck by unknown assailants. Two of her friends also suffered injuries, and doctors are now fighting to save all three of their lives.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Malala Yousafzai is currently in an army hospital after a gunman attacked her and two other girls in Peshawar, Pakistan this week. Malala was shot shortly after leaving her school in the Swat region.

Malala was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize last year for a blog she wrote under a pseudonym for the BBC. Malala also won the National Peace Prize in Pakistan and was honored with a school named after her. The teen became an outspoken critic of the Taliban in Pakistan and was a public advocate for peace.

Malala wrote unsparingly about life in the Swat Valley ruled by a local faction of the Pakistani Taliban, who carried out public floggings, hung dead bodies in the streets and banned education for girls.

Her blog led her to become the first Pakistani girl nominated for the children's peace prize. She began writing the diary for the BBC when she was just 11 years old.

In one posting on her BBC blog, she wrote, "My younger brother does not like going to school. He cries while going to school and is jubilant coming back home ... He said that whenever he saw someone he got scared that he might be kidnapped. My brother often prays 'O God bring peace to Swat and if not then bring either the US or China here.'"

In response, the militants added Malala to their hit list last year.

"We wanted to kill her as she was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and more important she was calling President Obama as her ideal. She was young but was promoting a Western culture in the Pakhtun populated areas," Ihsanullah Ihsan, the spokesman of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan said. The Taliban had made a plan for killing her a year ago but were waiting for an opportunity, he told NBC News.

Yousafzai was initially treated at the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital, in Mingora but was later airlifted to a hospital in the larger city of Peshawar.

According to the local police, some people came in a car and stopped in front of the school and then asked them to identify Malala.

"Since the students already knew about threats to Malala Yousufzai's life, therefore they said they didn't know her," the police officer said. Malala then came out of the school and sat in a school van she was shot.

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