Surgeons removed a bullet from a 14-year-old Pakistani girl targeted for death by the Taliban, but she remained in critical condition on Wednesday.As doctors tried to control the swelling around Malala Yousifazi’s head wound, an outpouring of solidarity with the intrepid teen swept across her nation.
Many schools in the Swat Valley — where she was shot on a bus after classes — closed their doors in protest. Flags flew at half-staff, and government officials hailed her bravery and selflessness.
“In attacking Malala, the terrorists have failed to grasp that she is not only an individual, but an icon of courage and hope,” Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said in an unusual public statement.
Supporters of coalition party Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) hold portraits of Malala Yousafzai as they pray for her well being in Karachi.
Malala began standing up to the Taliban when she was just 11, blogging for the BBC under a pen name while the Islamist extremists controlled the Swat Valley with beheadings and whippings.
After the Pakistani military drove the terror gang from power, she became a high-profile activist who won a national peace prize last year.
Her public support of education for girls infuriated Taliban chiefs, who had stripped women of basic rights. They declared her agenda an “obscenity.”
Malala was on her way home from the school her father runs when a gunman boarded the bus, asked for her by name and opened fire, shooting her in the head.
Army doctors treating Malala Yousafzai after gunmen ambushed a van carrying Malala Yousafzai and several of her schoolmates.
Spokesmen for the Taliban quickly took responsibility for the attack and vowed another assassination attempt if Malala survives.
There were conflicting reports about her prognosis, with some doctors saying she was out of danger after the surgery to remove the bullet and others say she might be airlifted out of the country.
“She is improving. But she is still unconscious,” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a provincial information minister