Bullet removed but Pakistani girl still critical
Malala Yousafzai, 14, is in intensive care after being shot in the head in broad daylight on a school bus on Tuesday, in an assassination attempt that has appalled a country where thousands have died at the hands of Islamist extremists.
We wish to bring home a simple message: we refuse to bow before terror. We will fight, regardless of the cost
The attack took place in Mingora, the main town of the Swat valley in Pakistan’s northwest, where Malala had campaigned for the right to an education during a two-year Taliban insurgency which the army said it had crushed in 2009.
She faces a crucial 48 hours following surgery to remove the bullet lodged near her shoulder, where it moved after entering her head, in a military hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where doctors described her condition as critical.
Preparations were made to fly her abroad, but a military source said she was too ill to travel.
Her uncle Saeed Ramzan said doctors told the family Malala was stable after the three-hour operation.
“But they said the next 48 hours are important and after that it will be decided whether she will be sent abroad or not,” he said at the family home in Mingora, which is under heavy police guard.
“We saw movement in her body today but she is still unconscious.”
President Hamid Karzai of neighbouring Afghanistan, where a fierce Taliban insurgency is raging, telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari to condemn the attack, according to a statement from the Pakistani government.
“Such incidents of barbarity strengthen national resolve to fight militants to the finish,” Mr Zardari told the Afghan president.
Doctors earlier confirmed the bullet had been removed from Malala’s shoulder and the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, said she would remain in Peshawar until medics agreed she could be moved.
“Malala’s condition is improving after the surgery and doctors will keep her in a state of unconsciousness for two days,” Mr Malik said. “Every effort has been made to ensure that she does not suffer brain damage. But anything can happen in such a situation.”
There has been shock and revulsion in Pakistan, where schoolchildren across the country on Wednesday offered prayers for Malala’s recovery and small protests against the attack were held in Mingora, Islamabad and the eastern city of Lahore.
The powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani visited Malala on Wednesday and said it was time to “further unite and stand up to fight the propagators of such barbaric mindset and their sympathisers”.
“We wish to bring home a simple message: we refuse to bow before terror. We will fight, regardless of the cost, we will prevail inshallah [God willing],” he said.
The provincial government announced a 10 million rupee ($102,000) reward for information leading to the capture of Malala’s attackers, who escaped after the shooting.
Malala won international recognition for highlighting Taliban atrocities in Swat with a blog for the BBC three years ago, when the Islamist militants burned girls schools and terrorised the valley.
Her struggle resonated with tens of thousands of girls denied an education by Islamist militants across northwest Pakistan, where the government has been fighting local Taliban since 2007.”