Taliban gunmen shoot girl activist, 14

2012-10-10 08:09

Mingora — Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousufzai was admired across a battle-scarred region of Pakistan for exposing the Taliban's atrocities and advocating for girls' education in the face of religious extremists. On Tuesday, the Taliban nearly killed her to quiet her message.

A gunman walked up to a bus taking children home from school in the volatile northern Swat Valley and shot Malala in the head and neck. Another girl on the bus was also wounded.

The young activist was airlifted by helicopter to a military hospital in the frontier city of Peshawar. A doctor in the city of Mingora, Tariq Mohammad, said her wounds weren't life-threatening, but a provincial information minister said after a medical board examined the girl that the next few days would be crucial.

Malala began writing a blog when she was just 11 years old under the pseudonym Gul Makai for the BBC about life under the Taliban, and began speaking out publicly in 2009 about the need for girls' education — which the Taliban strongly opposes. The extremist movement was quick to claim responsibility for shooting her.

"This was a new chapter of obscenity, and we have to finish this chapter," Taliban spokesperson Ahsanullah Ahsan by telephone.

The shooting provoked outrage across the country, angering Pakistanis who have seen a succession of stories about violence against women by the Taliban.

Daughter of Pakistan

"This attack cannot scare us nor the courageous Malala. This cowardly act cannot deter Malala to give up her efforts," said Azizul Hasan, one of the girl's cousins.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf condemned the attack and called her a daughter of Pakistan. US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland called the shooting "barbaric" and "cowardly".

Leila Zerrougui, the UN special representative for children in armed conflict, condemned the attack "in the harshest terms". ''Education is a fundamental right for all children," she said in a statement. The Taliban "must respect the right to education of all children, including girls, to go to school and live in peace".

The attack displayed the viciousness of Islamic militants in the Swat Valley, where the military conducted a major operation in 2009 to clear out insurgents, and a reminder of the challenges the government faces in keeping the area free of militant influence.

In her BBC blog, Malala wrote about not wearing her uniform to school after officials warned it might attract the Taliban's attention, and how many other students moved out of the valley after the Taliban issued an edict banning girls from school. She wrote about how the Taliban movement had kept her family from going out after sunset.

While chairing a children's assembly supported by Unicef in the valley last year, the then-13-year-old championed a greater role for young people.

Children's Peace Prize nominee

"Girl members play an active role," she said, according to an article on the UN organisation's website. "We have highlighted important issues concerning children, especially promoting girls' education in Swat."

She was nominated last year for the International Children's Peace Prize, which is organised by the Dutch organisation KidsRights to highlight the work of children around the world.

Malala was shot on her way home from a school run by her father, Ziauddin, who is also known in the valley for promoting education of girls.

The bus was about to leave the school grounds in Mingora, the largest city in Swat Valley, when a bearded man approached it and asked which one of the girls was Malala, said Rasool Shah, Mingora's police chief.

Another girl pointed to Malala, but the activist denied it was her and the gunmen then shot both of the girls, the police chief said.

The Swat Valley — nicknamed the Switzerland of Pakistan — was once a popular tourist destination for Pakistanis. Honeymooners used to vacation in the numerous hotels dotted along the river of the same name running through it.

200 schools destroyed

But the Taliban's near-total takeover of the valley just 280km from the capital in 2008 shocked many Pakistanis, who considered militancy to be a far-away problem in Afghanistan or Pakistan's rugged tribal regions.

Militants began asserting their influence in the valley in 2007 — part of a wave of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters expanding their reach from safe havens near the Afghan border.

By 2008 they controlled much of it and began meting out rules and their own brand of justice. During about two years of its rule, the Taliban forced men to grow beards, restricted women from going to the bazaar, whipped women they considered immoral and beheaded opponents.

Taliban militants in the region also destroyed around 200 schools. Most were girls' institutions, though some prominent boys' schools were struck as well. The private school owned and operated by Malala's father was temporarily closed under the Taliban.

At one point, the Taliban said they were halting female education, a move that echoed their militant brethren in neighbouring Afghanistan who during their rule barred girls from attending school.

While the Pakistani military managed to flush out the insurgents during the military operation, the Taliban's top leadership escaped, leaving many of the valley's residents on edge.

Women's issues

Kamila Hayat, a senior official of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said Malala's activism sent a global message that Pakistani girls could fight for their rights. But she also worried that Tuesday's shooting would prevent other parents from letting their children speak out against the Taliban.

"This is an attack to silence courage through a bullet," Hayat said. "These are the forces who want to take us to the dark ages."

The problems of young women in Pakistan were the focus of a separate case before the high court, which ordered a probe on Tuesday into an alleged barter of seven girls to settle a blood feud in a remote southwestern district.

The tradition of families exchanging unmarried girls to settle feuds is banned under Pakistani law but still practiced in the country's more conservative, tribal areas.

A tribal council ordered the barter in early September in the Dera Bugti district of Baluchistan province, the district deputy commissioner, Saeed Faisal, told the court. He did not know the girls' ages but local media reported they were between four and 13 years old.

The Advocate General for the province could not confirm the incident.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry ordered Faisal to ensure that all members of the tribal council — and a local lawmaker — who belongs to one of the groups believed involved — appear in court on Wednesday.

  • john.turner.58760608 - 2012-10-10 08:14

    What a brilliant girl! Those that shot her, to compare them to dog crap would be to flatter them

  • ben.spreeth - 2012-10-10 08:17

    Murderous cowards.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-10-10 08:22

    Isn't this the group everyone supports in their fight against the Americans ? That SHOULD still be in charge of a country ? The one thing that improves lives is the education of women , what a tragedy.

  • Bfoq.Za - 2012-10-10 08:23

    Could this be what CONTRALESA is aiming for? Scary...

  • darryl.maze.5 - 2012-10-10 08:28

    These Taliban muslim cowards must be shot. They are not in Afgan. I hope these cowards are caught and will be executed in the harshed way. This is the 21st century you barbarians and these girls have the right to go to schools. You Taliban men are cowards and a disgrace to islam.

      john.turner.58760608 - 2012-10-10 08:59

      Who are the toerags who disagree with Darryl?

      ronald.utenhage - 2012-10-10 09:16

      I agree with Darryl, if only there was a way to rid a faith of ALL idiots who do things to disgrace the faith. These morons can NOT be muslim, they murderous cowards

      john.turner.58760608 - 2012-10-10 10:15

      Obviously it is the Talibsn who disagree with Darryl, Roland and myself.

      roger.kaputnick.90 - 2012-10-10 17:35

      @Ronald, sorry chap, there is nothing good about muslims. It is an evil religion and needs to be stopped.

  • omar.hartley - 2012-10-10 08:31

    What better way to stir up emotions and support against the Taliban in that region than to shoot a 14 year old girl. Let's look a bit further. I don't think this is the Taliban. I'm sure they have bigger fish to fry than a 14 year old girl that 99.9% of the world has never heard of.

      andrew.dickason.5 - 2012-10-10 08:49

      Apparently they've officialy claimed it!

      LanfearM - 2012-10-10 08:54

      Yeah right, and I suppose that is why the Taliban immediately claimed responsibility? Open your eyes, the abuse of girls and women under the Taliban was atrocious, and they want to continue with it.

      omar.hartley - 2012-10-10 09:39

      Ok, ok- and I claim responsibilty for the JFK assassination. Does this mean I did it? Its too convenient. Soon the good ol' USA will have to invade Pakistan to rescue it from itself. But wait, Pakistan not really known for its oil reserves so maybe it won't. Or maybe this isn't just about just about oil but also about ultimately eradicating Islam.

      cameronrh1 - 2012-10-10 10:26

      @omar the fact you are trying to make excuses for radical islamic extremist terrorists is rather sad...

      LanfearM - 2012-10-10 14:15

      @ omar.hartley - oh please, you actually sound exactly like the Americans that blame Islam for everything, i.e. you blame the US for everything. How can you defend these people and what they did and do? I am not talking only about this specific attempted murder. Honor killings, refusing girls the right to education and so forth is also high on that list. And this comes not only from US propaganda news sites!

      LanfearM - 2012-10-10 14:16

      Another thing omar, why would the Taliban claim responsiblity for something they didn't do? Often there have been attacks and bombs that they didn't claim responsibility for, probably because they didn't do it. Please grow up and once again, open your eyes!

      clive.kihn - 2012-10-10 14:42

      Omar, why would they immediately claim responsibility if they didn't do it? Get real man. These are people who burn down girls' schools, cut off noses, and commit other dastardly acts. Are you telling me that this is what Islam is all about? Please, can some Muslims contribute something sane and intelligent to this forum, so we don't end up thinking that all of you are like Omar and the Taliban.

  • olivia.karnak - 2012-10-10 09:03

    Backwards is, as backwards can get

  • alakendra.roychoudhury - 2012-10-10 09:10

    My only question is where are the Muslims of the world out on the street or in front of some embassy denouncing this act and protesting with as much vigor as they protest over a film or a cartoon!

      LanfearM - 2012-10-10 09:32


      cameronrh1 - 2012-10-10 10:28

      @alakendra you wont hear any denouncements coming from the muslim world unfortunately. Above we have @omar.hartley trying to make excuses for killing this little girl.

      roger.kaputnick.90 - 2012-10-10 17:37

      Because this is what their religion is about...they support it.

  • bradley.kecskes - 2012-10-10 10:10

    I wonder where fidel is...See his support for these cowards. why don't they go fight real men and see how far they get. their tactics is so low and cowardly its not even funny. They all deserve a bullet in between their eyes!

      omar.hartley - 2012-10-10 10:26

      Uhm, they kinda did fight real men and destroyed the Russian army and are now bleeding the American economy dry with tactics of attrition against its forces.... Next.

      cameronrh1 - 2012-10-10 10:32

      @omar Yes real men kill 14 year old little girls and children to force their values of Sharia law upon people for the prospects of 72 Virgins one day. May they burn in hell.

      bradley.kecskes - 2012-10-10 13:38

      Firstly Omar you sticking up for these cowards makes me a tad angry and i don't usually get angry, I'd like to give you a blue eye and maybe two...secondly they were armed by the Americans forces and special training was given to Afgahns by American forces(only god knows why) and their tactics are cowardly, full stop these backward folk are not men.

      LanfearM - 2012-10-10 14:04

      @ omar.hartley - the Afghans held out against the Russian with guerilla warfare, that is true. However, they did NOT "destroy the Russian army"! Only a rather small part of that army was in Afghanistan. Why must you guys always lie and deceive with your revisionist history and conspiracy theory tactics? Just bloody well ADMIT that what the Taliban is doing to women and children is WRONG!

      LanfearM - 2012-10-10 14:08

      @ omar.hartley - how can you possibly defend such actions as refusing education for girls, shooting a girl that speaks up for female education, honour killings, bombing a girl's school, and so forth. How can you possibly even try to defend this?! Is this your only answer, i.e. "its a conspiracy"?

      clive.kihn - 2012-10-10 16:49

      Omar: it was not the Taliban that sent the Russians packing; it was a coalition of tribesmen (possibly including some Taliban) with the assistance of American-supplied arms. Is this what they fought for - shooting tennage girls? How can you see anything honourable in this?

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-10-10 10:13

    don't you see, the only ones to benefit from this story are those who wish to stoke up your hatred. It's pure propoganda, don't believe a word of it.

      omar.hartley - 2012-10-10 10:22

      Exactly. Seems the masses here have been brainwashed by CNN.

      cameronrh1 - 2012-10-10 10:29

      You two are the ones who have clearly been brainwashed by PressTV, JihadTV etc etc....

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-10 10:38

      Omar, I would not post all this crap , for no pay. Write a conspiracy novel, you will sell at least 30 copies to the violent loony left!! In no time, you will be telling us about this river that runs up the mountain !!!!

      cameronrh1 - 2012-10-10 10:39

      @Anthony for all we know it might become a religious text for extremists to denounce so called propaganda from the western world which they so love to live in.

      bradley.kecskes - 2012-10-10 13:40

      faceplam.jpeg its like two brain cells trying too start a fire...LOL trust me this is how they treat people who cant defend themselves, woman,children...COWARDS IS WHAT THEY ARE!!!

      bradley.kecskes - 2012-10-10 13:42

      and let me guess you two DEREK and OMAr watched a video about conspiracy and the sorts and all of a sudden you know exactly whats going on in these places...shame.

      clive.kihn - 2012-10-10 16:55

      Derek, are you saying it's only a "story", devoid of truth? Or do you believe that events like this should not be reported in order to hide the facts about certain organisations which purport to be doing barbaric things in the name of a religion?

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