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Taliban Say They Shot Teenaged Pakistani Girl Who Exposed Their Cruelty

Tue, October 9, 2012 5:38pm

Story by Mark Memmott


Malala Yousufzai on a stretcher as she was being taken to a hospital earlier today in Mingora, Pakistan.

"Shooting attacks happen every day in Pakistan," as NPR's Philip Reeves reports from Islamabad.

But the shooting of a teenaged girl who became nationally known after she documented the Taliban's cruelty in Pakistan's Swat Valley has caused particular shock in that country, he tells our Newscast Desk.

The Pakistani Taliban are claiming their fighters carried out today's attack. According to Philip, "officials say Malala Yousufzai was outside her school when a gunman approached, and opened fire, injuring her and at least one other child."

(Note at 7 a.m. ET, Oct 10: Earlier, we wrote that Malala is 14. That is what The Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets are reporting. Phil, though, has checked with Malala's school and been told she was born on July 12, 1997 — making her 15. He also spoke with her in August 2009. Malala said then that she was 12.)

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper says it has been told by a spokesman for the Taliban that the girl was targeted for spreading "anti-Taliban and 'secular' thoughts among the youth of the area." Malala, Dawn says, was "hit by couple of bullets to her neck and head." While hospitalized, she is said to be "out of danger." She may, though, need to be sent overseas for treatment.

The Taliban reportedly say they'll target her again.

As Philip reminds us, "Malala is a national figure. She lives in Swat Valley and was there several years ago when the Taliban took control and began burning down girls' schools. The Pakistani army rolled in, in 2009, to retake the area. Malala wrote an anonymous diary, broadcast on the BBC, about life under the Taliban. She advocated education for girls, and defied the militants' ban on this by secretly going to school with her books hidden in her clothes. Her bravery was recognized last year when she was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize."

The BBC report, "Diary of a Pakistani schoolgirl," is posted here. In one diary entry, she wrote:

"I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

"Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

"On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you.' I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone."

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