Teenage Pakistan child rights activist shot

PESHAWAR: Gunmen shot and wounded a teenage Pakistani children’s rights activist as she boarded a school bus on Tuesday in the former Taliban stronghold of Swat, police said.

Malala Yousafzai, 14, won international recognition for highlighting Taliban atrocities in Swat by blogging for the BBC.

She 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 KidsRights Foundation in 2011.

“Malala was getting into her school bus after school when two gunmen opened fire on her, injuring her and one of her friends,” local police official Rasool Shah told AFP.

Provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain confirmed the shooting in Mingora, the main town of Swat, and blamed the attack on terrorists.

Yousafzai was shot in the forehead and will be taken to the northwestern city of Peshawar for further treatment but is stable, said Doctor Taj Mohammed at the Saidu Sharif Medical Complex in Mingora.

The Pakistan army in 2009 effectively crushed a two-year Taliban insurgency in Swat where cleric Maulana Fazlullah presided over a brutal campaign of beheadings, violence and multiple attacks on girls’ schools.

After fierce fighting displaced around two million people, the army declared the region back under control in July 2009.

Despite sporadic outbreaks of violence, the government has since tried to encourage tourism in Swat.

It had been popular with Pakistani and Western holidaymakers for its stunning mountains, balmy summer weather and winter skiing.