News / Asia

Activist Malala Hails Pakistani Teen Hero

An undated framed photograph shows 15-year-old Pakistani student Aitzaz Hasan, who residents and police say died this week while trying to stop a suicide bomber who was targeting his school in a remote village in Hangu, Pakistan, Jan. 10, 2014.
An undated framed photograph shows 15-year-old Pakistani student Aitzaz Hasan, who residents and police say died this week while trying to stop a suicide bomber who was targeting his school in a remote village in Hangu, Pakistan, Jan. 10, 2014.
VOA News
Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousufzai said Friday that she is donating a half million Pakistani rupees, worth close to $5,000, to the family of a 15-year-old boy who died trying to stop a suicide bomber from targeting his school.

Yousufzai also called on the Pakistani government to bestow its highest civilian award on Aitzaz Hassan, who was killed Monday in a remote village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's Hangu district.

Malala survived an attack by Pakistani Taliban gunmen in Swat in 2012, when she was just 12 years old. She has gained worldwide attention for her vocal opposition to militants and her support for the rights of women and girls.

FILE - Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai poses during a photo opportunity before speaking at an event in New York, Oct.10, 2013.FILE - Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai poses during a photo opportunity before speaking at an event in New York, Oct.10, 2013.
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FILE - Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai poses during a photo opportunity before speaking at an event in New York, Oct.10, 2013.
FILE - Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai poses during a photo opportunity before speaking at an event in New York, Oct.10, 2013.
“I feel saddened that violence took another child’s life in my country," Malala said in Britain, where she now lives. "I feel proud that I belong to a country where many brave and courageous people like Aitzaz Hasan are born.”

Local police said Aitzaz, a ninth grader, saw the attacker getting off a bus and heading toward the gate of the school. The man was wearing a school uniform but he looked suspicious, and that is when Aitzaz tried to stop him, prompting the attacker to detonate the explosives-filled vest he was wearing.

Aitzaz's elder brother, Mujtaba, told VOA's Deewa the teenager's act "made his mother cry but saved 500 other mothers from crying," referring to the number of students in the school at the time of the blast.

Mujtaba said his brother often said he would fight if he came face to face with a suicide bomber.  “He actually did what he had said he would,” Mujtaba said.

Instead of grieving and mourning, the brother said the family is celebrating Aitzaz's bravery and martyrdom.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Sunni militant group, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group is blamed for attacks on Shi'ites, who are a minority in Pakistan.

Speaking to VOA, Nazir Ahmad, a member of Britain's House of Lords who is of Pakistani origin, urged British Pakistanis to assist and support Hassan's family.

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