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Pakistan: Malala Yousufzai, 14-year-old activist, shot in school attack in Swat Valley

Malala Yousufzai, a young rights activist, and another girl were shot and injured while leaving school in Pakistan's Swat Valley. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Malala yousufzai shot pakistan 20121009Enlarge
In this picture taken on March 25, 2010, Pakistani girls walk to school in Mingora, the capital of Swat Valley. A year after Pakistan launched a major operation to evict the Taliban from Swat Valley, markets are bustling and girls are back at school, but the root causes of the conflict still fester. For two years the Taliban paralysed much of the valley by promoting a repressive brand of Islamic law, opposing secular girls' education and beheading opponents until the government ordered in thousands of troops. (A.MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images)

Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old rights activist, was shot in the head Tuesday while leaving school in northwest Pakistan's Swat Valley.

A bullet penetrated Malala's skull but missed her brain, doctors told Agence France-Presse. She is currently in a hospital in Peshawar in critical condition, according to AFP.

The BBC reported that the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Malala has campaigned for girls' education, and was honored for her work in documenting Taliban oppression in the Swat Valley.

According to DawnNews, she received Pakistan's inaugural National Peace Award, and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011.

Malala, under the pen name Gul Makai, wrote a diary for BBC Urdu about life in the Swat under Taliban control.

Details of the school attack remain unclear. According to the AP, a bearded man approached a van as it prepared to leave the school, and asked which one of the girls was Malala before opening fire, injuring the young activist and another girl.

The BBC reported that gunmen opened fire on the schoolgirls as they prepared to board a van or bus. Reuters said two girls in addition to Malala were injured.

A spokesman for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, which claimed credit for the attack, spoke to The Express Tribune, warning that they would target Malala again if she survived.

The spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said, "She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling President Obama her idol."

He added, "She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas," and said the attack was a warning to all youngsters in the area that they would be targeted if they followed her example.

More from GlobalPost: On Location: Swat Valley — Rehab for the Taliban (VIDEO)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/121009/pakistan-malala-yousufzai-14-year-old-activist-shot-school-attack-swat