ISLAMABAD, Sept 12, (AFP): The Taliban gunmen who tried to kill Pakistani schoolgirl campaigner in the country’s restive northwest two years ago have been arrested, the army said Friday.
Militants shot the teenage activist in the head on her school bus in October 2012 for her outspoken views on girls’ education. But she survived and went on to earn international plaudits for her courageous and determined fight for all children to have the right to go to school.
The detention of the 10 men in a joint operation involving army, police and intelligence agencies came as part of the Pakistani military’s ongoing offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other extremist outfits. “The group involved in the attack on Malala Yousafzai has been arrested,” Major General Asim Bajwa told a news conference.
The 10-member group had a hitlist of 22 targets in addition to Malala, all ordered by the TTP’s current leader Maulana Fazlullah, Bajwa said. All its members were from Malakand, close to Mingora, the main town of Swat where Malala was attacked, he said and the leader Zafar Iqbal ran a furniture shop. After narrowly surviving the assassination bid, Malala was taken to Britain with her family for treatment, where she now lives.
Her courageous recovery has made her a global figure — she won the EU’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize last year and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. An address she gave to the United Nations General Assembly in July last year, in which she vowed she would never be silenced, earned her a standing ovation.