Officials: Pakistani Schoolgirl Attacker Was Detained, Released in 2009

Posted October 18th, 2012 at 4:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistani officials say one of two Taliban militants suspected of shooting a Pakistani schoolgirl and sparking international condemnation was detained in 2009 but subsequently released.

Authorities identified the alleged assailant Thursday as Attaullah and say the Pakistani military captured him during its offensive into the northwest Swat Valley three years ago. They detained him because of his suspected ties to the Pakistani Taliban, which controlled the area at the time.

Now, officials believe Attaullah is on the run, possibly in neighboring Afghanistan, for the shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai. Meanwhile, authorities have detained several members of his family.

Pakistan has offered a bounty worth about $1 million for the spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban, Ehsanullah Ehsan, after he said his group shot Yousafzai as she left her school October 9 in Swat after she spoke out against the militant group.

Yousafzai is now at a British hospital, where doctors say they expect her to make a “good recovery.”

Pakistan's government has promised to pay for all expenses related to her treatment. Her transfer came after Pakistani military officials said local doctors had recommended it.

Yousafzai has been internationally recognized for promoting education for girls and documenting Taliban atrocities in the area near her home in Swat.

Thousands of people in Pakistan have held vigils and protests to show their support for the teenager.

Pakistani police have arrested several shooting suspects in Swat Valley.