Pakistani surgeons remove bullet from 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, but Taliban threaten to ‘finish this chapter’
Malala Yousafzai was in critical condition after gunmen shot her in the head and neck on Tuesday as she left school. Two other girls were also wounded.
Yousafzai began writing a blog when she was just 11 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.
The shooting provoked outrage across the country, angering Pakistanis who have seen a succession of stories about violence against women by the Taliban.
General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan’s powerful army, visited her in hospital and condemned her attackers.
“The cowards who attacked Malala and her fellow students, have shown time and again how little regard they have for human life and how low they can fall in their cruel ambition to impose their twisted ideology,” Kayani said in a statement.
The military said it had a simple message, which it wrote in capital letters in the statement to add emphasis: “WE REFUSE TO BOW BEFORE TERROR.”
The shooting was denounced across Pakistan. The front pages of national newspapers carried pictures of a bandaged and bloody Yousafzai being brought to hospital.
Many commentators said Yousafzai’s courage contrasted with that of many of the country’s leaders, who fear that challenging militants will make them targets.
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.