Young victim hailed as an 'icon of courage and hope' who faced down scourge of extremism every day
SCHOOLS in Pakistan's Swat Valley have closed in protest as anger erupted across the country over the Taliban attack on a 14-year-old activist famed for promoting girls' education.
Malala Yousafzai (left) was in the intensive care unit at a military hospital in Peshawar, recovering from surgery which successfully removed a bullet from her head.
The shooting of Malala on her way home from school in the town of Mingora in the volatile Swat Valley horrified Pakistanis across the religious, political and ethnic spectrum. A Taliban gunman walked to a bus taking schoolchildren home and shot her in the head and neck.
The country's top military officer, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the attack. The powerful army chief rarely makes such public pronouncements, even when it comes to strictly military matters.
"In attacking Malala, the terrorists have failed to grasp that she is not only an individual, but an icon of courage and hope who vindicates the great sacrifices that the people of Swat and the nation gave, for wresting the valley from the scourge of terrorism," he said.
He said the military would not bow to terrorists like those who shot the young activist.
"We will fight, regardless of the cost, we will prevail," he said.
Malala is admired across Pakistan for exposing the Taliban's atrocities and advocating girls' education in the face of religious extremism.