Arrests made in shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala
Nasir Habib and Saima Mohsin, CNN
5:14 PM EDT, Sun October 28, 2012
Six arrests are made in the shooting of Malala Yousufzai
Police identify the main suspect as Atta Ullah Khan; his suspected role is unclear
Malala is in an English hospital, where doctors say she is making progress
Six men have been arrested in connection with the shooting of Malala Yousufzai, the teenage activist who spoke out against the Taliban, but the main suspect remained at large, Pakistani police said Wednesday.
Police identified Atta Ullah Khan, a 23-year-old man from the Swat district where Malala was attacked, as the primary suspect. Police said they were searching for Khan, who was studying for a master’s degree in chemistry.
The Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan is a Taliban redoubt.
Pakistani Christians attend a prayer service for the recovery of teen activist Malala Yousufzai in Lahore on Sunday, November 11, 2012. Pakistan celebrated Malala Day on Saturday as part of a global day of support for the teenager shot by the Taliban.
Pakistani Christians attend a prayer service in Lahore on Sunday. Malala, 15, went from an intensive care unit in Pakistan, showing no signs of consciousness, to walking, writing, reading and smiling in a hospital in the UK.
Pakistani supporters hold photographs of Malala as they stand alongside burning candles during a ceremony to mark Malala Day in Karachi on Saturday, November 10, 2012. The teen activist was shot in the head by the Taliban as she rode home from school in a van last month. She had defied the militant group by insisting on the right of girls to go to school. The attack has stirred outrage in Pakistan and around the world.
Malala sits up in her hospital bed with her father, Ziauddin, and her two younger brothers, Atal Khan, right, and Khushal Khan on Friday, October 26, 2012, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in Birmingham, England.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham/Getty Images
Pakistani hospital workers carry Malala on a stretcher at a hospital following the attack on Tuesday, October 9, 2012. Malala was shot in the head while riding home in a school van in the Taliban-heavy Swat Valley, officials said.
Supporters hold portraits of Malala as they pray for her well-being in Karachi, Pakistan in 2012. Malala gained fame for blogging about how girls should have rights in Pakistan, including the right to learn.
A Pakistani Muslim prays for Malala during Friday prayers in Karachi. Malala, whose writing earned her Pakistan's first National Peace Prize, also encouraged young people to take a stand against the Taliban -- and to not hide in their bedrooms.
Pakistani school girls pray for the Malala's recovery. Over the weekend, the teen moved her limbs after doctors "reduced sedation to make a clinical assessment," military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said.
Pakistani Christians attend a mass praying for the recovery of Malala at a church in Lahore.
In addition to arresting six men – all of them from Swat – police have detained Khan’s mother, brother and fiancee. The suspect’s relatives were not accused of involvement but are being questioned, a senior police official told CNN.
The official did not say what role Khan may have played.
Khan had studied for a Bachelor of Science degree in physics at Jahanzeb College in Swat.
Alam Zeb, the school’s principal, said Khan had given school officials three or four dates of birth. Zeb condemned the attack and said he was surprised to hear that a former student may have been involved.
The 15-year-old girl, who has become a symbol of courage after being shot in the head by the Taliban for demanding education for girls, is being treated at a hospital in Birmingham, England.
On Wednesday, she remained in stable condition and “continues to make good progress,” the hospital’s website said. She is expected to need “a significant period of rest and recuperation” before undergoing reconstructive surgery, Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director of University Hospitals Birmingham, said last week.
Malala was fighting an infection, but was able to move her extremities and has stood with help from nurses, the hospital said.
Malala’s family remains in Pakistan.
Malala can’t speak because a tube has been inserted into her trachea to protect her airway, which was swollen after her gunshot injury, but she was writing coherent sentences, Rosser said.
The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the October 9 shooting and vowed to kill Malala, if she recovers.
Journalist Saima Mohsin and CNN’s Nasir Habib contributed to this report from Swat