Pakistani Taliban's new chief said linked to attack on Malala

Islamabad, Nov 7 (EFE).- A veteran militia commander suspected of having ordered the attack that nearly killed young education activist Malala Yousufzai is the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Geo television said Thursday.

Maulana Fazlullah was chosen by the council of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, to replace Hakimullah Mehsud, killed last week in a U.S. drone strike.

Fazlullah was behind the killing of Pakistan's military commander in the Swat Valley, Gen. Sanaullah Khan Niazi, and is believed to be directing TTP operations in that region from across the border in Afghanistan.

The TTP claimed responsibility for the Oct. 9, 2012, attack in the Swat district on a van carrying Malala Yousufzai and other girls home from school.

Yousufzai was shot in the head and chest.

Surgeons in Pakistan provided emergency care and removed a bullet that entered just above her left eye and grazed her brain, and she was later flown to England for further treatment.

Malala, now 16, was honored last month by the European Parliament with the 2013 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Expression.

The young activist first gained prominence at age 11 for a diary she wrote for BBC Urdu about her efforts to pursue her schooling despite an edict issued by Taliban militants in Swat banning education for girls.