Pakistan nabs militants linked to attack on Malala

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Pakistan nabs militants linked to attack on Malala
Joint-Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan waves as she arrives to speak on stage during the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India received the Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday for risking their lives to help protect children from slavery, extremism and forced labor at great risk to their own lives. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Malala Yousafzai poses with a bouquet after speaking during a media conference at the Library of Birmingham, in Birmingham, England, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, after she was named as winner of The Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize 2014, is awarded jointly to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India, for risking their lives to fight for children’s rights. Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two-years ago in Pakistan for insisting that girls have the right to an education. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Malala Yousafzai, visits Zaatari refugee camp near the Syrian border, in Mafraq, Jordan, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. A teenage Pakistani activist who came to the international limelight when she was shot by the Taliban said Tuesday that the plight of Syrian refugee children deprived of proper education was a stark reminder of the “dark days” Pakistani children under their hard-line rulers. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)
Nobel Peace Prize 2014 laureates Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai gives the V-sign as she waves to well-wishers from the balcony of the Grand Hotel ahead of the Nobel Banquet following the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on December 10, 2014. The 17-year-old Pakistani girls' education activist Malala Yousafzai known as Malala shares the 2014 peace prize with the Indian campaigner Kailash Satyarthi, 60, who has fought for 35 years to free thousands of children from virtual slave labour. AFP PHOTO / VEGARD WIVESTAD GROTT (Photo credit should read VEGARD WIVESTAD GROTT/AFP/Getty Images)
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai speaks at a joint press conference with fellow laureate and Norwegian Prime minister after their meeting at the PM's office in Oslo on December 11, 2014. At 17-years old, the Pakistani known everywhere as Malala is the youngest ever recipient of the prize she is sharing with the Indian campaigner Kailash Satyarthi, 60, who has fought for 35 years to free thousands of children from virtual slave labour. Their pairing has the extra symbolism of linking neighbouring countries that have been in conflict for decades. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
OSLO, NORWAY - DECEMBER 10: Malala Yousafzai. delivers her acceptance speech to the audience during the Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony at Oslo City Town on December 10, 2014 in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Nigel Waldron/Getty Images)
Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, front, and Kailash Satyarthi of India are awarded their Nobel Peace Prize during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize is being shared between Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Rescued child laborers at the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Children Movement, founded by India’s Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi celebrate at the organization’s office in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. Satyarthi who split the $1.1 million Peace Prize, with Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai will be conferred the award at a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A man holding the Mexican flag is led away by security after attempting to get on stage with Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize is being shared between Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan, right, and Kailash Satyarthi of India take their seats during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize is being shared between Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Joint-Nobel Peace prize winners Malala Yousafzai, left, and Kailash Satyarthi attend a press conference in Oslo, Norway, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize will be presented to and shared between the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor Malala Yousafzai and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Guests of Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai from left rear, Nigerian, Amina Yusuf, Syrian, Mezon Almellehan, Pakistan's Kainat Soomro, school friend, Shazia Ramzan, centre front, and school friend, Kainat Riaz, right, applaud and Malala Youzafzai enters the hall for the start of the presentation ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize is being shared between Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. Person at front left is unidentified. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India are awarded their Nobel Peace Prize during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize is being shared between Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Rock star Steven Tyler, center, attends the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize is being shared between Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Joint Nobel Peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai, fourth left, stands with five young women she invited to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, from left, Nigeria's Amina Yusuf, Pakistan's Kainat Soomro, school friend Shazia Ramzan, Syria's Mezon Almellehan and school friend Kainat Riaz, as they pose for a group photograph before speaking to the media at Malala's hotel in Oslo, Norway, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize will be shared between Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor, and the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A Nobel Peace Center worker poses for photographs beside the blood stained school uniform joint Nobel Peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai was wearing when she was shot by the Taliban, as it is displayed next to an image Malala on a screen at left at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize will be presented to and shared between the youngest Nobel Prize winner ever, 17-year-old Taliban attack survivor Malala Yousafzai and Indian children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Pakistani activist for female education Malala Yousafzai attends a press conference ahead of the award ceremony for the 2014 World's Children Prize for the Rights of the Child at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, west of Stockholm, on October 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 21: Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai (L), 17-years-old, receives the 2014 Liberty Medal from Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center October 21, 2014 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Given annually, the medal honors men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai holds bouquets of flowers after addressing the media in Birmingham, central England on October 10, 2014. The Nobel Peace Prize went Friday to 17-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and India's Kailash Satyarthi for their work promoting children's rights. Seventeen-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said she was 'honoured' to be the first Pakistani and the youngest person to be given the award and dedicated the award to the 'voiceless'. 'This award is for all those children who are voiceless, whose voices need to be heard,' she said. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10: Malala Yousafzai speaks during a press conference at the Library of Birmingham after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, on October 10, 2014 in Birmingham, England. The 17-year-old Pakistani campaigner, who lives in Britain where she received medical treatment following an assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, was jointly awarded the Nobel peace prize with Kailash Satyarthi from India. Chair of the Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland made the announcement in Oslo, commending Malala for her 'heroic struggle' as a spokesperson for girls' rights to education. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 file photo, Malala Yousafzai addresses students and faculty after receiving the 2013 Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. A militant commander and an intelligence official say the Pakistani Taliban have chosen the man who planned the attack on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai as the group's new leader. (AP Photo/Jessica Rinaldi, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2013, file photo Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old girl from Pakistan, who was shot in the head by the Taliban last October for advocating education for girls, speaks on occasion of the International Day of the Girl at the World Bank in Washington. Malala has inspired the development of school curriculum encouraging advocacy. George Washington University announced Monday, Oct. 14, that faculty members are creating curriculum tools to accompany her book, "I Am Malala." Several faculty members will pilot the curriculum early next year for both college and high school instruction. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
FILE - In this Friday, July 12, 2013 file photo, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, listens as Malala Yousafzai, right, addresses the "Malala Day" Youth Assembly, at United Nations headquarters. A year ago, Malala Yousafzai was a schoolgirl in northwest Pakistan, thinking about calculus and chemistry, Justin Bieber songs and "Twilight" movies. Today she's the world-famous survivor of a Taliban assassination attempt, an activist for girls' education _ and a contender to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday Oct. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
This undated image provided the SITE Intel Group, an American private terrorist threat analysis company, on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, and authenticated based on details in it, shows Mullah Fazlullah in Pakistan. Fazlullah, the ruthless commander behind the attack on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai as well as a series of bombings and beheadings, was chosen Thursday as the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, nearly a week after a U.S. drone strike killed the previous chief. (AP Photo/SITE Intel Group)
People watch a news report on TV about newly selected leader of Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah at a coffee shop in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. The ruthless commander behind the attack on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai as well as a series of bombings and beheadings was chosen Thursday as the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, nearly a week after a U.S. drone strike killed the previous chief. The Arabic on the TV news report reads, "On April 21, 2011, fourteen troops were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in Dir." (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Pakistani activist for female education Malala Yousafzai attends a press conference ahead of the award ceremony for the 2014 World's Children Prize for the Rights of the Child at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, west of Stockholm, on October 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai sits before receiving the 2014 World's Children Prize for the Rights of the Child during an award ceremony at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, western Stockholm on October 29, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - OCTOBER 10 : The biography of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai's 'I Am Malala' is seen at a bookstore in Islamabad, Pakistan on October 10, 2014. Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 becomes the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo by Muhammad Reza/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Malala Yousafzai attends TimesTalks Presents: I Am Malala at The French Institute on August 19, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD - JULY 30: Education rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan delivers a speech at the National Academy for the Performing Arts on July 30, 2014 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. (Photo by Sean Drakes/LatinContent/Getty Images)
HUERTH, GERMANY - DECEMBER 01: Malala Yousafzai speaks during the '2013! Menschen, Bilder, Emotionen' - RTL-Jahresrueckblick on December 1, 2013 in Huerth near Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani student who was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban applauds after being awarded with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, on November 20, 2013 at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. The Sakharov Prize , named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established by the European Parliament as a means to honour individuals or organisations who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought. AFP PHOTO/ PATRICK HERTZOG (Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)
This video grab taken on November 7, 2013, shows Asmatullah Shaheen (R) caretaker chief Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) announcing the new leader of TTP during a press conference in an undisclosed location in northwest Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban appointed a hardline cleric linked to the attack on Malala Yousafzai as their new chief on November 7, throwing proposed peace talks with the government into serious doubt. Maulana Fazlullah, elected by the Taliban's supreme council, led the militants' brutal two-year rule in Pakistan's northwest valley of Swat in 2007-2009, before a military operation retook the area. AFP PHOTO/THIR KHAN (Photo credit should read THIR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: General view of the atmosphere at the third annual Pencils of Promise gala at Guastavino's on October 24, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Pencils of Promise)
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By MUNIR AHMED
ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan's army announced Friday that it had arrested 10 militants suspected of involvement in the 2012 attack on teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, who won world acclaim after she was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating gender equality and education for women.

Army spokesman Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said the detained men attacked Yousafzai, then 16, on orders from Mullah Fazlullah, the head of the Pakistani Taliban. The army is currently waging a major offensive against the extremist group in North Waziristan, a tribal region along the border with Afghanistan that has long been a militant stronghold.

"The entire gang involved in the murder attempt... has been busted," Bajwa said, adding that the "terrorists" were part of Tehrik-e-Taliban, an umbrella group encompassing militant organizations across the tribal areas.

Malala, a precocious teenage activist who had called for expanding girls' education in deeply conservative areas of Pakistan, was shot in the head in October 2012 while returning from school. Two other girls were also wounded in the attack.

Malala was initially treated in Pakistan, but was later flown to a hospital in Britain, where she now lives with her family. Representatives of the family could not immediately be reached for comment.

Malala is from the same region that was once home to Fazlullah, who was elevated to his current leadership position after his predecessor, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan.

Fazlullah has been on the run since 2009, when Pakistan launched a major offensive in the northwestern Swat Valley to eliminate militants who were trying to overthrow the government and impose a harsh version of Islamic law.

Pakistan believes Fazlullah is hiding in Afghanistan, and Bajwa said Islamabad had raised the issue with the Afghan government. Both countries have long accused each other of ignoring militants who launch cross-border attacks from their territory.

"We will continue our efforts until (Fazlullah) is arrested or killed," Bajwa told a televised news conference in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

He did not say when or where the men were captured, but said security agencies detained all 10 in a coordinated operation acting on information from one of the members of the cell. He said the head of the cell had also been arrested.

"The group acted upon the instructions of Mullah Fazlullah who, while based in Kunar, Afghanistan, passed instructions through his two associates," he said. He added that it was a "known fact" that Fazlullah and other "terrorists" are hiding in Afghanistan.

The arrests come at a time when Pakistan's military is carrying out a major operation against militants in North Waziristan. Pakistan launched the June 15 operation after militants attacked one of the country's busiest airports, in the southern city of Karachi, shocking the nation.

The military says it has so far killed at least 975 militants and that the operation is "progressing" as planned.

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