Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani activist who won international acclaim for her work promoting peace, and two other young girls were shot and seriously injured Tuesday, police and hospital officials said.
Local police and hospital officials told NBC News that Malala was shot in the neck and head shortly after leaving her school in the Swat region. Doctors said they were working in an attempt to save the lives of all three girls. Follow @NBCNewsWorld
Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011 for a blog she wrote under a pseudonym for the BBC. She also won the National Peace Prize in Pakistan, was honored with a school named after her, and quickly became an outspoken critic of the Taliban in Pakistan and public advocate for peace.
In the blog, she chronicled life in the Swat Valley under the brutal and oppressive rule of the local faction of the Pakistani Taliban, who carried out public floggings, hung dead bodies in the streets, and banned education for girls.
Obama her ‘ideal’ leader
In early 2011, the militants had added Malala to their hit list.
“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 or TTP said Tuesday.
Malala Yousafzai, pictured here at the age of 12 in March 2009, was undergoing surgery after she was shot twice Tuesday.
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, the main city of Swat, but was later airlifted to a hospital in the larger city of Peshawar.
A police official, quoting other students who witnessed the shooting, said 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.
But he said when Malala came out of the school and sat in a school van she was shot.
The young girl’s stark depictions of daily life in Swat — as Pakistan’s army carried out a massive military operation against the Taliban in the area — 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.
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.'”
- Profile: Shot Pakistani Teen Stood Up To The Taliban (rferl.org)
- Pakistani girl shot over activism in Swat valley, claims Taliban (guardian.co.uk)