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A vicious attack carried out by a Pakistani branch of the terrorist group Taliban has left a 14-year-old girl and education rights activist suffering from gunshot wounds. According to an Al-Jazeera report, Malala Yusafzai was travelling home with a fellow female student on a school van when a group of masked gunmen stopped the vehicle.

An unidentified man asked was the van from the Khusal public school in the town of Mingora, the largest such dwelling in the Swat Valley region of Northwest Pakistan. One man asked aloud, “Where is Malala?” and after locating the teenager, the assailant produced a gun and shot the girl in the head and neck.

Thankfully, the bullet that entered her skull missed her brain thus leaving the girl out of danger. He classmate, Shazia Ramazan, only suffered a gunshot to the hand. The latest report lists Yusafzai in critical condition and family member confirmed there is heavy security in and around the Saidu Sharif Medical Complex in Mingora.  The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has  proudly claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Yusafzai became a world figure in 2009 after anonymously writing a diary for BBC regarding life under the tyrannous Taliban rule. She would then speak out against the Taliban’s oppressive tactics of keeping girls from going to school and won her country’s National Peace Award for Youth by way of her activism. Her outspoken nature was not without trepidation and she knew that her actions would draw the ire of the extremist Islamic group.

Taliban representative Ehsanullah Ehsan, said to the AFP news agency that the group had  warned Yusafzai to discontinue her activist stances.

“She is a Western-minded girl. She always speaks against us. We will target anyone who speaks against the Taliban,” said Ehsan. “We warned her several times to stop speaking against the Taliban and to stop supporting Western non-governmental organisations, and to come to the path of Islam.”

London rights group Amnesty International spoke out against the attack and highlighted the dangers girls and others like Yusafzai in standing up for their selves.

“This attack highlights the extremely dangerous climate human rights activists face in northwestern Pakistan, where particularly female activists live under constant threats from the Taliban and other militant groups,” said the group via a statement.


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Photo: Malala Yusafzai