Malala attackers sentenced to life in prison

Malala Yousafzai


A court in Pakistan Thursday sentenced 10 men to life imprisonment for attempting to kill Nobel-prize winning teenage activist Malala Yousafzai in 2012, officials said, though the chief suspect remains at large.

Pakistani Taleban militants boarded the teenager’s school bus and shot her in the head in October 2012 for her outspoken views on girls’ education, in an attack that also wounded two of her friends and shocked the world.

Malala, now 17, survived and in October last year became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history for her courageous and determined fight for all children to have the right to go to school.

“Ten attackers who were involved in the attack on Malala Yousafzai have been sentenced to life imprisonment,” a court official told AFP. The news was confirmed by a lawyer present at the hearing in the northwestern town of Mingora, as well as a security official.

Life prison sentences in Pakistan are 25 years.

The man suspected of actually firing the gun at Malala, named by officials as Ataullah Khan, is believed to be on the run in Afghanistan, along with Pakistani Taleban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who ordered the attack.

Pakistan’s military announced the arrest of the 10 suspects in September 2014 as part of an operation that involved the army, police and intelligence agencies.

The army spokesman Asim Bajwa said the group had a hitlist of 22 targets in addition to Malala, all ordered by Fazlullah.

Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for over a decade following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, though the fighting has at times proved unpopular by those who believe Muslims should not wage war on their co-religionists.

Public opinion, however, has shifted heavily against the Taleban in recent times after a series of brazen attacks on civilian targets, including a school in Peshawar where more than 150 people — mostly children — were killed.


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