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Pakistan teen who died tackling suicide bomber nominated for award

By Anna Maja Rappard, Zahir Shah Sherazi and Saima Mohsin, CNN
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat January 11, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A teenager who died tackling a suicide bomber outside his school is nominated for an award
  • Aitazaz Hassan Bangash has been hailed as a hero in Pakistan for saving his schoolmates
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says his "brave act saved the lives of hundreds of students"
  • Teenager's cousin says Aitazaz challenged the bomber after becoming suspicious

(CNN) -- Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has nominated a 14-year-old boy who died tackling a suicide bomber outside his school for a top civil award for bravery.

Aitazaz Hassan Bangash has been hailed as a hero in Pakistan for the sacrifice he made to protect his schoolmates.

The Sitara-e-Shujjat is the same honor awarded to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for her efforts to promote education for boys and girls.

A statement from Sharif's office Friday said Aitazaz's "brave act saved the lives of hundreds of students and established a sterling example of gallantry and patriotism."

Journalist: Aitazaz's bravery gives hope

The nomination follows a campaign on social media for the teenager to be recognized.

The ninth-grader was on his way to school Monday in the Hangu district of northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when the bomber, dressed in a school uniform, asked him where the school was, the teen's cousin, Musadiq Ali Bangash said.

He and Aitazaz became suspicious, the cousin said.

"The other students backed off, but Aitazaz challenged the bomber and tried to catch him. During the scuffle, the bomber panicked and detonated his bomb," he said.

Aitazaz and the bomber died at the scene. Witnesses say the blast injured two other people.

Hangu is a troubled district bordering Pakistan's tribal areas. It is rife with sectarian violence, with attacks against Shia and Sunni Muslims.

"It was a great sacrifice to save the lives of hundreds of both Shia and Sunni students, who were in morning assembly," Musadiq said.

CNN's Zahir Shah Sherazi reported from Peshawar, Saima Mohsin from Islamabad and Anna Maja Rappard from Atlanta.

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