UK & World News
Anti-Taliban Schoolgirl Shot By Militants
Taliban gunmen have shot and seriously wounded a 14-year-old schoolgirl who rose to fame for speaking out against the militants, authorities have said.
Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head and neck when gunmen fired on her school bus in Pakistan's Swat valley.
She was airlifted to Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital in the valley's main town of Mingora, where doctors are battling to save her life.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said his group was behind the shooting.
"She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling President Obama her ideal leader," he said in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location.
Police said two other girls were wounded in the attack.
The US State Department condemned the shooting as "barbaric and cowardly".
Malala became well-known in 2009 for speaking out against the Pakistani Taliban, appearing in television documentaries and blogging about her life.
At the time, the Pakistan government was seen to be appeasing the hardline Islamists.
The Government agreed to a ceasefire with the Taliban in Swat in early 2009, effectively recognising insurgent control of the valley whose lakes and mountains are popular with tourists.
The Taliban set up courts, executed residents and closed girls' schools, including the one that Malala attended.
A documentary team filmed her weeping as she explained her ambition to be a doctor: "My friend came to me and said, 'For God's sake, answer me honestly, is our school going to be attacked by the Taliban?'"
Malala, then 11, wrote about the Taliban regime in a blog published by the BBC.
"During the morning assembly, we were told not to wear colourful clothes as the Taliban would object," she wrote in one post.
The army launched an offensive and retook control of Swat later that year, and Malala later received the country's highest civilian award.
She was also nominated for international awards for child activists.
Since then, she has received numerous threats.