Girls shot by Taliban return to school in Pakistan

Thursday 29 November 2012 17.48
Prayers are said for Malala Yousafzai in Swat Valley, Pakistan
Prayers are said for Malala Yousafzai in Swat Valley, Pakistan

Two Pakistani girls shot by a Taliban hit squad trying to kill their classmate, Malala Yousafzai, have returned to school under tight security.

A gunman attacked Ms Yousafzai, 15, who campaigned for girls' education despite threats from the Taliban, on 9 October as she was leaving school.

She was shot in the head and her two school friends were also wounded.

The shooting provoked widespread outrage and brought Ms Yousafzai international admiration for her campaigning.

The teenager is recovering in a British hospital.

Police escorted her classmates, Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramazan, back to school.

The two girls will have security escorts indefinitely, police said.

The attack on Ms Yousafzai followed years of campaigning that had pitted her against one of Pakistan's most ruthless Taliban commanders, known as Maulana Fazlullah.

Fazlullah and his men took over the Swat Valley and blew up girls' schools and publicly executed those they deemed immoral or tried to stand up to them.

Eventually, the army launched an offensive to drive the militants out.

Though Fazlullah and his men have fled over the mountains, Swat remains tense and it seems inconceivable that Malala, who has become a symbol of resistance to Taliban efforts to deny women education, will be able to go home and back to school.

Her father said in late October that she would "rise again" to pursue her dreams after medical treatment.

Tens of thousands of Britons have called on the British government to nominate Yousufzai for a Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.

Pakistan has five million children out of school, a number only surpassed by Nigeria, the UN cultural agency said in a report published this week.

Two-thirds of those children are girls.