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Malala Yousafzai shooting: Pakistan arrests 3 suspects

Three men between 17 and 22 have been arrested for the shooting of a 14-year-old Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai.

Malala yousafzai bullet removed pakistan october 10 2012Enlarge
Pakistani civil society activists carry placards with a photograph of the gunshot victim Malala Yousafzai as they shout anti-Taliban slogans during a protest rally against the assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai, in Islamabad on October 10, 2012. Pakistani doctors removed a bullet from a 14-year-old child campaigner shot by the Taliban in a horrific attack condemned by national leaders and rights activists. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Three suspects have been arrested over the shooting of 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai, police in northwest Pakistan say.

Three men aged between 17 and 22 were arrested during raids in Swat Valley on Thursday night, regional police chief Gul Afzal Afridi told NBC News.

The suspects claim that another man, named Attaullah, was the "mastermind" of the attack, according to Afridi.

Attaullah is reportedly still at large, though Pakistan's Express Tribune quoted a police official as saying that he would soon be arrested.

The Pakistani Taliban has already claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack, which left Malala and two other girls badly wounded.

More from GlobalPost: Why did the Taliban shoot Malala Yousafzai?

According to Reuters, one of the group's "most feared commanders," Maulana Fazlullah, personally oversaw the hit, which was carried out by two local gunmen.

A Taliban spokesman told the news agency that they had planned the shooting for months, studying the route Yousafzai took to school, what time she travelled and the vehicle she used.

"We had no intentions to kill her but were forced when she would not stop [speaking out against us]," said Sirajuddin Ahmad, a spokesman for the Swat Taliban who is now based in Afghanistan.

Yousafzai remains in critical condition in a military hospital in Rawalpindi, where she was moved on Thursday after surgery to remove a bullet lodged near her spine.

"Malala's condition is satisfactory, praise be to God, but the next 24 to 36 hours are critical," the BBC quoted a military spokesman, Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, as saying Friday.

The day has been designated a day of prayer for Malala, the BBC said, with schools and mosques across Pakistan dedicating their prayers to her recovery.

Meanwhile the girls' school she attended in Mingora, where her father is headmaster, reopened Friday for the first day since the attacks, NBC reported. Police have been deployed to protect teachers and pupils, many of whom are too afraid to attend.

More from GlobalPost: Malala Yousafzai in critical condition after surgery

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/121012/malala-yousafzai-shooting-pakistan-3-suspects-arrested