Malala's injured friends vow to continue studies

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2012 14:05 hrs
Malala Yousufzai

Kainat and Shazia, friends and fellow students of Pakistani teenaged rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who were also injured in the recent Taliban attack on her, have vowed to defy the militants and continue their studies.

Undeterred by the attack earlier in the week, Kainat told Geo News she wants to become a doctor to serve the country.

The 14-year-old Malala and her two friends were shot at in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province while they were returning home from school. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting that sparked outrage across the world.

Kainat told Geo News a militant opened fire after identifying Malala, and that she fell unconscious as she saw Malala in a pool of blood.

Shazia Ramzan, also 14, watched in horror as Malala was shot beside her on their school bus, before the gunman turned and shot her too, in the shoulder and hand.

"She (Malala) will recover and we will go back to school and study together again," Shazia told the Daily Mail.

Malala, from the age of 11, has been defying the Taliban by writing a blog for the BBC championing education for girls.

In a hospital in Peshawar, Shazia - who was hit by two bullets - said Malala told classmates she might be a target but refused to hide from the Taliban.

"Malala told us she had been threatened by the extremists. She said she had been speaking too much against mujahideen (Taliban) and they might do something to her," Shazia said.

Describing the attack, she said: "It was just a normal school day. We were coming home after our second-term exams."

"The bus was taking the usual route. Then it suddenly stopped and two men confronted us. They asked, 'Which one of you is Malala?' Some of the girls started to talk and then one of the men opened fire. All the girls started crying and shouting."

"Malala was hit in the head and fell to the floor unconscious. There was blood everywhere. I was in total shock," Shazia said.

"Then the man with the gun fired at me and another girl and ran away. We were all just so traumatised and shocked. Everything happened so quickly."

"The bus driver raced us to hospital. It was chaotic because everyone was screaming and crying and Malala was lying on the floor in front of me," the Daily Mail quoted Shazia as saying.

Shazia said Malala would talk to them "about the dangers she was facing but refused to change the way she lived".

"She just said the extremists might do something to her because she had spoken out against them so much and they might want to harm her. She knew something might happen but she never let it affect her. She refused to be anything other than a normal schoolgirl," she said.

Shazia said she was disgusted with the men who carried out the attack.

"We don't know who they were but I am sure they were the people Malala had been warned about," she said.

Shazia said her greatest wish was to return to school with Malala, even though the Taliban has threatened to return and kill Malala.

"With the grace of God, I am completely all right now. Malala will recover soon too, I hope. We will go back to school and study together again," she said.

"I am praying for Malala and praying she can join her school friends again as soon as possible. The whole nation is praying for her and I am sure she will make a full recovery," she added.

Shazia's 50-year-old father Muhammad Ramzan, who runs a bakery in Mingora, said he was horrified by the attack.

"We have never been enemies with anyone. I don't know who did this. Malala was outspoken and she had told her classmates something like this could happen but we never imagined it would happen in this way," Ramzan told the daily.

Three brothers of senior Taliban commander arrested

Meanwhile, Pakistani security agencies have arrested three brothers of a senior Taliban commander from Swat during a raid for alleged links to the near-fatal attack on Malala, who is still on ventilator in hospital and making "slow and steady" progress.

The suspects, who were arrested on Saturday in Nowshera district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, were sent to an undisclosed location for questioning, officials said.

The officials told the media that another brother of the three men was a senior commander in the Taliban faction led by Maulana Fazlullah — also known as Radio Mullah — who controlled Swat till the army launched an operation there in early 2009. The suspects were held a day after Swat district police chief Gul Afzal Khan Afridi announced that they had made an "important breakthrough" by arresting three other men, whose identity not disclosed, on suspicion of involvement in the attack on 14-year-old Malala.

Afridi had said police were hopeful of arresting Ataullah, the alleged mastermind of Tuesday's attack on Malala and two of her school friends, soon.

Earlier, police and security agencies had detained dozens of suspects for questioning in connection with the attack. The driver of Malala's school bus too was questioned.

Most of these people were released after questioning On Malala's condition, the military on Sunday said she was making "slow and steady progress."

"Doctors have reviewed Malala's condition and are satisfied. She is making slow and steady progress which is in keeping with expectations," chief military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement. Malala has been on ventilator since she was shifted from Peshawar to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi on Thursday after doctors removed a bullet lodged near her backbone.

She was shot in the head and neck during the Taliban attack on her and two of her school friends on Tuesday last.

Bajwa said recovery from "this type of injury is always slow."

Doctors are continuing to monitor Malala's condition Doctors are continuing to monitor Malala's condition closely and another detailed review will be carried out shortly, Bajwa said. On Saturday, doctors reduced Malala's sedation so that neurosurgeons could make a "better clinical assessment."

Malala responded to stimulus and moved her hands and feet slightly.

Bajwa said that authorities have made preparations for all contingencies, including shifting Malala abroad for treatment, though no decision has been made in this regard. In a related development, Pakistan's Ambassador to UAE, Jamil Ahmed Khan, said the UAE royal family plans to send an air ambulance for Malala in case doctors decide to send her abroad for treatment. Visas were being finalized for the special UAE aircraft's crew and six doctors, he told Geo News channel.

The air ambulance will remain in Islamabad till a decision is made whether she should be shifted abroad. Arrangements have been made to treat Malala at three hospitals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Khan said.

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Malala, has said the girl was targeted for backing Western ideals and a secular government.

The shooting of the teenager has been denounced across the world.

Pakistani authorities have offered a reward of Rs 1 crore for information leading to the capture of Malala's attackers.

Meanwhile, people across Pakistan continued to offer prayers for Malala's recovery and hailed her for her campaign for education for all girls.

In Lahore, Father Shahid Meraj led special prayers for Malala at the Cathedral Church. Meraj said Malala's attackers were not true followers of God, who wants every person, irrespective of religion, to get education.

Children and women lit candles to express solidarity with Malala and sang hymns.

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