WASHINGTON (October 10, 2012): The United States on Tuesday denounced a “barbaric” and “cowardly” Taliban attack on a Pakistani teenage children’s rights activist, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head on her school bus.
“We strongly condemn the shooting of Malala. Directing violence at children is barbaric, it’s cowardly, and our hearts go out to her and the others who were wounded, as well as their families,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Malala, 14, who led a campaign for the right to an education in the militants’ former stronghold of Swat, is fighting for her life after the attack in which two other girls were wounded.
She was flown to the northwestern city of Peshawar where a team of senior doctors said she was in a critical condition.
Malala won international recognition for highlighting Taliban atrocities in Swat with a blog for the BBC three years ago, when Islamist militants burned girls’ schools and terrorized the valley.
Tuesday’s shooting in broad daylight in Mingora, the main town of the Swat valley, raises serious questions about security more than three years after the army claimed to have crushed a Taliban insurgency.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP the Islamist group carried out the attack after repeatedly warning Malala to stop speaking out against them.
“She is a Western-minded girl. She always speaks against us. We will target anyone who speaks against the Taliban,” he said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Yousafzai received the first-ever national peace award from the Pakistani government last year, and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by advocacy group KidsRights Foundation in 2011. (AFP)