ISLAMABAD

OpenCalais Metadata: Latitude: 
33.6667
OpenCalais Metadata: Longitude: 
73.1667

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani couple accused of killing their 15-year-old daughter by pouring acid on her carried out the attack because she sullied the family’s honor by looking at a boy, the couple said in an interview broadcast Monday by the BBC.

The girl’s death underlines the problem of so-called “honor killings” in Pakistan where women are often killed for marrying or having relationships not approved by their families or because they are perceived to have somehow dishonored their family.

A supporter of Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), center, reacts while she and other women chant prayers in support of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Schools shut their doors in protest and Pakistanis across the country held vigils Wednesday to pray for a 14-year-old girl who was shot by a Taliban gunman after daring to advocate education for girls and criticize the militant group.

The shooting of Malala Yousufzai on Tuesday in the town of Mingora in the volatile Swat Valley horrified Pakistanis across the religious, political and ethnic spectrum. Many in the country hoped the attack and the outrage it has sparked will be a turning point in Pakistan’s long-running battle against the Taliban, which still enjoys considerable public support for fighting U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Top U.S. officials condemned the attack and offered to help the girl.

A Taliban gunman walked up to a bus taking children home from school and shot Malala in the head and neck. Another girl on the bus was also wounded. Pictures of the vehicle showed bloodstained seats where the girls were sitting.

Malala appeared to be out of immediate danger after doctors operated on her early Wednesday to remove a bullet lodged in her neck. But she remained in intensive care at a hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar, and Pakistan’s Interior Minister said the next 48 hours would be crucial.

Small rallies and prayer sessions were held for her in Mingora, the eastern city of Lahore, the southern port city of Karachi and the capital of Islamabad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised the young Pakistani girl.

“She was attacked and shot by extremists who don’t want girls to have an education and don’t want girls to speak for themselves, and don’t want girls to become leaders,” she said.

Malala is admired across Pakistan for exposing the Taliban’s atrocities and advocating girls’ education in the face of religious extremism.

At the age of 11, she began writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under the Taliban in the Swat Valley. After the military ousted the militants in 2009, she began publicly speaking out about the need for girls’ education, something the Taliban strongly opposes.

The group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack and vowed to target her again.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said authorities have identified her attackers and know how they got into the valley, but no arrests have been made.

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: Shooting sparks outrage

Afghanistan-bound trucks carrying supplies for NATO forces parked as authorities close border at Torkham border in Pakistan on Sunday, Nov 27, 2011. Pakistan on Saturday accused NATO helicopters and fighter jets of firing on two army checkpoints in the country’s northwest and killing 24 soldiers. Islamabad retaliated by closing the border crossings used by the international coalition to supply its troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — Afghan troops and coalition forces came under fire from the direction of two Pakistan army border posts, prompting them to call in NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, Afghan officials said Sunday. The account challenges Islamabad’s claims that the attacks, which have plunged U.S.-Pakistan ties to new lows, were unprovoked.

It also pointed to a possible explanation for the incident Saturday on the Pakistani side of the border. NATO officials have complained that insurgents fire from across the poorly defined frontier, often from positions close to Pakistani soldiers, who have been accused of tolerating or supporting them.

Pakistan’s political leaders and military establishment, still facing domestic criticism following the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, have reacted with unprecedented anger to the soldiers’ deaths. They closed the country’s Western border to trucks delivering supplies to coalition troops in Afghanistan, demanded the U.S. vacate a base used by American drones within 15 days and said they were reviewing all cooperation with the U.S. and NATO.

Despite those actions, a total rupture in what both sides acknowledge is an imperfect relationship is considered unlikely. Pakistan still relies on billions of dollars in American military and civilian aid, and the U.S. needs Islamabad’s help to push Afghan insurgents to engage in peace talks.

NATO officials have previously said a joint Afghan-NATO operation was taking place close to the border and that airstrikes were called in. All airstrikes are approved at a higher command level than the troops on the ground.

The alliance has said it is conducting an investigation to determine the details. It has not commented on Pakistani claims the attacks killed 24 soldiers, but it has not questioned them.

“The attack was unprovoked and indiscriminate,” said army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas. “There was no reason for it. Map references of all our border posts have been passed to NATO a number of times.”

The attack sparked popular anger in Pakistan. There were protests in several town and cities across the country, including Karachi, where around 500 Islamists rallied outside the U.S. Consulate.

NATO’s top official, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, offered his deepest condolences and said the coalition was committed to working with Pakistan to “avoid such tragedies in the future.”

“We have a joint interest in the fight against cross-border terrorism and in ensuring that Afghanistan does not once again become a safe-haven for terrorists,” Rasmussen said in Brussels.

A year ago, a U.S. helicopter attack killed two Pakistani soldiers posted on the border. A joint U.S.-Pakistan investigation found that Pakistani troops fired at the two U.S. helicopters prior to the attack, a move the probe said was likely meant to notify the aircraft of their presence after they passed into Pakistani airspace.

Islamabad closed one of the two border crossing for U.S. supplies for 10 days to protest that incident.

There was no indication of how long Islamabad could keep the border closed this time.