(RSF/IFEX) – 11 October 2012 – Two days ago the 14-year-old blogger Malala Yousafzai was shot and wounded in the head and neck by the Pakistan Taliban on her way home from school.
A gunman stopped the school bus on which the young activist was travelling and shot her and two other girls whom he had asked to identify her. Doctors at the Saidu Sharif hospital in the northern city of Mingora successfully removed the bullets but for some time she remained in a critical condition.
She is now out of danger and the interior minister, Rehman Malik, said a decision whether to move her abroad for further treatment had been postponed. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf announced that the government would meet the cost of her treatment.
Reporters Without Borders is outraged at this cowardly attack on such a young activist. “The cruelty of the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan) in targeting this young girl is absolutely disgusting,” the press freedom organization said.
“The attack shows once again that the Taliban will go to any lengths to silence their critics and intimidate the local population. We urge the Pakistani authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Malala Yousafzai and other dissidents who are threatened by the Taliban.”
TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Eshan confirmed that the organization was behind the shooting. He told the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune that that if she survived they would target her again, adding that it was a warning to all youngsters involved in similar activities who would be targeted if they did not stop.
In 2009, the Taliban closed educational facilities, destroying 150 schools, in the Swat Valley, part of Pakistan’s so-called tribal zones, with the declared aim of preventing the education of girls. Malala, aged 11 at the time, launched a blog on the BBC website using the pen name ‘Gul Makai’ which criticized the Taliban occupation.
The young activist also chaired the Child Assembly, a UNICEF-backed gathering of young people working for children’s rights in the Swat Valley, and publicly expressed her support for the right of women to an education. Last December she received the National Youth Peace Award for her courage in promoting peace in the region.
Pakistan is ranked 151st of 179 countries in the 2011/2012 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.