The United States has condemned a Taliban attack on Pakistani teenage children's rights activist Malala Yousafzai, calling it "barbaric" and "cowardly".
"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," the Daily Times quoted State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, as saying.
Malala, 14, who led a campaign for the right to an education in the militants' former stronghold of Swat, was shot in the head while traveling in her school van and is now fighting for her life. Two other girls were also injured in the attack.
Malala won international recognition for highlighting Taliban atrocities in Swat with a blog for the BBC three years ago, when militants burned girls' schools and terrorised the valley.
The shooting in broad daylight in Mingora, the main town of the Swat valley, has raised serious questions about security more than three years after the army claimed to have crushed a Taliban insurgency.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said the 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," Ehsan was quoted, as saying.
Malala 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 Kids Rights Foundation in 2011. (ANI)