Pak teen activist airlifted to top hospital; Taliban attackers identified

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2012 15:54 hrs

Islamabad: Teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai, who is still critical after being shot in the head by the Taliban, was on Thursday airlifted to Pakistan's top army hospital in Rawalpindi for better post-surgery care as special prayers were offered across the nation for her quick recovery.

Malala, who was in the intensive care unit of a Peshawar hospital where a 3-hour surgery was performed on her on Wednesday to remove a bullet lodged near her spine, was shifted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in the garrison city near here on doctors' advice.

In Images: Shooting of Pakistani girl activist sparks outrage

Chief military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa said doctors recommended that AFIC had better facilities for post-surgery care.

The decision to shift 14-year-old Malala, who along with two of her school friends was attacked by the Taliban on Tuesday in Swat in the country's troubled northwest, to Rawalpindi was made by a panel of Pakistani and British doctors.

Doctors have said she is improving though her condition continues to be serious.

"Her condition is not yet out of danger despite improvement," Masood Kausar, Governor of the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, told reporters.

A neurosurgeon from the Peshawar hospital also said that the next 10-15 days are critical for Malala.

The provincial Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has offered a reward of Rs one crore for information leading to the arrest of Malala's attackers.

People from all walks of life held demonstrations and candlelight vigils in Lahore and other cities of Punjab province to condemn the Taliban's cowardly act of attacking Malala, who came to prominence after she spoke out for the rights of girls when the Swat Valley was controlled by the Taliban in 2008.

International community condemns attack

The "cowardly" and Taliban attack on 14-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousufzai drew strong international condemnation as US President Barack Obama termed the assault on the young rights activist as disgusting and tragic.

Obama also offered all possible help including US military air ambulance and treatment.

"I know that the President found the news reprehensible and disgusting and tragic. We strongly condemn the shooting of Malala Yousafzai," Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, told reporters yesterday.

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, he said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also expressed "outrage" at the life-threatening attack on the girl and is writing to her family to offer his support.

Ban called for the perpetrators of the "heinous and cowardly" attack on Yousufzai to be swiftly brought to justice.

The UN Chief's spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters that like others around the world, Ban has been "deeply moved" by Yousufzai's "courageous efforts" to promote the fundamental right to education.

Ban "expresses his outrage and strongest condemnation" over the shooting of Yousufzai as well as two other girls who were injured in the attack.

Meanwhile, responding to reporters, Carney said, "The US has offered any necessary assistance to Malala... US military has agreed to provide air ambulance and medical treatment at a facility suitable for her condition if it becomes necessary".

Malala's family rejected security offers: Rehman

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Thursday said that young peace activist Malala Yousafzai had been offered security thrice, but it was refused by her family.

"The IGP, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, offered security to Malala thrice but her family refused it. The family probably didn't know how important she was," The News quoted Malik, as saying.

Malala, 14, who earned international fame for raising voice against Taliban oppression in Swat, was shot in the neck and head and two other girls sustained injuries when the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) opened fire on their school van in Swat valley on Tuesday.

The TTP said they had shot her because she had "promoted secularism", and that they would target her again if she survives.

Malik further said he has now ordered the authorities to provide security to the family even if they don't accept it.

"An air ambulance has reached the Bacha Khan International Airport on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari but the doctors did not advise shifting Malala abroad. She will be shifted overseas once the doctors permit it," he added.

Malala, a National Peace award winner, became the voice of all the girls in Swat when she began maintaining a diary on the website of the BBC under the pen name of "Gul Makai".

Taliban attackers identified

Child peace campaigner Malala Yousufzai, who was shot at by the Taliban, will not be sent abroad for treatment, said interior minister Rehman Malik. He added that her attackers have been identified.

Malik said he was satisfied with her treatment by Pakistani doctors, reported Geo News from Peshawar.

The interior minister said Malala's attackers had been identified and would be brought to justice.

The minister added that neurosurgeons from London and the US were ready and would be called to Pakistan if the need arose.

Doctors at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) removed a bullet that pierced her head and got lodged in her shoulder.

Rs 10 million reward for arrest of attackers

Earlier, Pakistani officials announced a reward of 10 million rupees for information leading to the arrest of the attackers of Malala.

The information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, announced the news of the bounty in Peshawar.

Rehman Malik said the nation "will not let them (the attackers) run away, we will catch and punish them".

Malala rose to fame because of her innocent but courageous desire to attend school, which translated into a one-girl campaign of resistance when Taliban captured Swat valley in 2009 and ordered girls' schools closed. Several hundred in Swat and neighbouring Bajaur and Mohmand were destroyed.

Malala was just 11 when she started writing a diary under the pen-name 'Gul Makai' for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban militants who had taken control of the Swat Valley in 2007 and ordered girls' schools to close.

The Taliban were ousted from Swat in 2009, but her family said they had regularly received death threats.

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