Pakistan child rights activist shot in head: Doctors

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A teenage Pakistani children's rights activist was shot in the head on Tuesday in an assassination attempt as she boarded a school bus in the former Taliban stronghold of Swat, officials said.

Malala Yousafzai, 14, won international prominence for highlighting Taliban atrocities in Swat by blogging for the BBC.

She received the first ever national peace award from the Pakistani government last year and was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by advocacy group KidsRights Foundation in 2011.

The shocking incident in broad daylight in Mingora, the main town of the once much-loved northwestern valley, raised serious questions about security more than three years after the army claimed to have crushed a Taliban insurgency.

Doctors at the Saidu Sharif Medical Complex in Mingora said that Malala was out of danger after the bullet penetrated her skull but missed her brain.

"A bullet struck her head, but the brain is safe," said Doctor Taj Mohammed. "She is out of danger," he added. Doctor Lal Noor, from the same hospital, confirmed that the bullet broke her skull but missed her brain.

"The bullet struck her skull and came out on the other side and hit her shoulder," he told AFP. Police said one of Malala's friends, another schoolgirl, was also hurt.

"Malala was getting into her school bus after school when two gunmen opened fire on her, injuring her and one of her friends," police official Rasool Shah said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting.

Provincial information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain blamed the attack on terrorists and said Malala would be flown by helicopter to the northwestern city of Peshawar for further treatment.

The Pakistan army in 2009 effectively crushed a two-year Taliban insurgency in Swat where cleric Maulana Fazlullah presided over a brutal campaign of beheadings, violence and multiple attacks on girls' schools.

After fierce fighting displaced around two million people, the army declared the region back under control in July 2009.

Despite sporadic outbreaks of violence, the government has since tried to encourage tourism in Swat. It had been popular with Pakistani and Western holidaymakers for its stunning mountains, balmy summer weather and winter skiing.

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