Malala Yousufzai, an outspoken 14-year-old girls' education activist and winner of Pakistan's first National Peace Prize, was shot and seriously wounded on her way home from school in a van on Tuesday.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in the Swat Valley of northwest Pakistan, which also wounded two other girls.
According to reports, a man with a gun approached the school van and asked students to identify Yousufzai. When a student pointed her out, the man shot her in the head and neck.
Taliban spokesman Ihsnaullah Ishan told CNN, "She wanted to make our women leave their homes for secular education, something the Taliban will never permit."
Ishan said, "She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas," Reuters adds.
Jon Boone writes at the Guardian on Yousufzai's rise to fame:
Malala won fame in 2009 during the Pakistani army operations to crush a Taliban insurgency that had taken hold in the Swat valley, an area popular among Pakistani tourists three hours drive from Islamabad.
As part of her campaign for girls' education she wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC about the chaos at the time, including the burning of girls' schools.
Her efforts were recognised by Pakistan's prime minister who awarded her the country's first National Peace award and a reward of around £3,300 after she missed out on winning the International Children's Peace Prize for which she was nominated in 2011.
She had also spoken of her desire to set up her own political party and a vocational institute for marginalised girls in her area.
Yousufzai remains hospitalized.
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A Schoolgirl’s Odyssey by Adam B. Ellick for the New York Times profiles the life of Yousufzai and her family: