Malala Yousafzai Leads Global Condemnation of Taliban School Attack

Malala Yousafzai
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai flashes the 'V' sign from the balcony of the Grand Hotel in Oslo December 10, 2014. Suzanne Plunkett/REUTERS

17-year-old Malala Yousafzai and U.S. President Barack Obama, both Nobel Peace Prize winners, have condemned the Taliban's attack on a school in Pakistan, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 140 people, most of them children.

Malala, who was shot by the Taliban in October 2012 as punishment for promoting women's education, described the attack as a "senseless and cold-blooded act of terror," and emphasized that the Pakistani Taliban's intimidation attempts will not weaken the country's resolve.

"I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable." she said in a statement released to media.

"I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters - but we will never be defeated. Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this," she continued.

Malala, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, was shot three times on a school bus by Taliban militants in the Swat valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital.

She now lives in Birmingham with her family, where she received treatment for her injury and finished her education. She has continued her fight against the oppression of women and campaigned for their right to education, resulting in her being awarded the Peace Prize on 10th December, alongside Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Obama, who won the prize in 2009 for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples," has also said he will continue to support the Pakistani government in crushing the Islamic extremists.

"We stand with the people of Pakistan, and reiterate the commitment of the United States to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region," he said in a statement published today.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and loved ones. By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity."

Imran Khan, the founder and chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) tweeted the following:

Shocked at attack on school in Peshawar. Strongly condemn this inhuman act of utter barbarism.

— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 16, 2014

The party had planned a nationwide shutdown on 18th December in protest against the government but has postponed it in the light of today's events. However, Khan has been criticised by some for refusing to name the Taliban directly when speaking to a press conference held in Peshawar this afternoon. The politician has advocated trying to bring a peaceful end to the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan in the past, leading to some Twitter users labelling him an "apologist" for the terrorist group.

Over 40,000 innocent people have died in terrorist attacks in Pakistan since 2001, but today's attack is the most deadly ever carried out in the country.

Taliban spokesman Mohammed Khurasani, said in a phone call to the media that the attack was carried out in revenge for the killings of Islamic extremists in an army offensive in North Waziristan last week.

"We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," he said. "We want them to feel the pain."

However, Ahmed Rashid an expert on the Pakistani Taliban, told the BBC that another reason the insurgents attacked the school was to send a brutal message to those who support Malala and her fight for women's education.

Just days after the teenager was awarded the prize, the Pakistani Taliban warned that she had forged a pact with "Western satanic forces". Khurasani claimed the Nobel committee gave their award to Malala to "promote Western culture, and not education".

Rashid also said that he believes the Taliban's attack was aimed at intimidating the Pakistani military. "Many of the soldiers and officers fighting the Taliban have their children in this school so this is an attempt to demoralise the military," he said.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared three days of national mourning in response to the attack. On arrival in Peshawar on Tuesday, Sharif told reporters: "These are my children and it is my loss. We will continue our struggle to completely eradicate militancy."

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