Teenage Pakistan Activist Flown to U.K. After Taliban Attack
A 14-year-old activist who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen was flown to the U.K. for more medical treatment today after doctors in Pakistan concluded she was stable enough to travel.
Information about Malala Yousufzai’s journey was kept secret until the last minute over fears that she’d be attacked again, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said in Islamabad. Late yesterday, several dozen militants attacked a police checkpoint in northwest Pakistan, killing at least six security officials.
The Oct. 9 attack on Yousufzai, who began writing blog posts at age 11 documenting Taliban repression in her native Swat Valley, drew condemnation from leaders in Pakistan and abroad. Pakistanis held a day of prayer for her on Oct. 12, while school children, politicians and religious groups held rallies over the weekend to condemn the shooting.
Yousufzai will need “prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of trauma that she has received,” the Pakistani army said in an e-mailed statement today. Her condition is stable, Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a phone interview from Rawalpindi.
Costs for Yousufzai’s care in a National Health Service hospital will be paid for by the Pakistani government, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters while in Luxembourg today. “The United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Pakistan in fighting terrorism,” Hague said.
The Taliban said on Pakistani media the girl was attacked for spreading secular thoughts in the insurgency-hit valley where she lived. The attack may weaken support for the Taliban and other militant groups that oppose the country’s alliance with the U.S. and western allies fighting in neighboring Afghanistan, according to the International Crisis Group.
In yesterday’s attack, between 60 and 70 militants overran the checkpoint in Matni, south of Peshawar, for several hours, police official Javed Khan said in a phone interview. A senior police officer was among the dead, Khan said.
The militants set fire to the checkpoint before fleeing, Khan said, adding that he had no information on any militant casualties. The police office in Peshawar said the dead included policemen and paramilitary troops.
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