[Updated at 5:55 a.m. ET] Six people have been arrested in connection with the shooting of Malala Yousufzai, the teenage activist who spoke out against the Taliban, though the main suspect still is on the loose, Pakistani police told CNN exclusively.
Police on Wednesday identified Atta Ullah Khan, a 23-year-old from the Swat district where Malala was attacked, as the main suspect. Authorities are searching for Khan, who was studying for a master's degree in chemistry, police say. The Taliban-heavy Swat Valley is in the northwestern part of Pakistan.
Six men accused of facilitating the attack were arrested, police said Wednesday. Also detained were Khan's fiancée, mother and brother, though they aren't accused of involvement in the attack, police said.
It's unclear whether Khan was at the scene and tried to shoot Malala or if he was considered the leader behind the plan to kill her.
Malala, who has become a global symbol of courage after being shot in the head by the Taliban for demanding education for girls, is currently receiving treatment at a hospital in Birmingham, England.
She stood with the aid of nurses Friday for the first time since the October 9 shooting and was "communicating very freely," according to the director of the hospital. Malala can't speak because she has a tracheotomy tube inserted to protect her airway, which was swollen after her gunshot injury, but she is writing coherent sentences, said Dave Rosser, director of University Hospitals Birmingham.
Friday's progress report – more detailed than previous updates – suggests that the 15-year-old could make a good recovery.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the shooting and vowed to kill Malala if she recovers from her injuries.
Read more on Malala's story:
Attack on Pakistani schoolgirl galvanizes anti-Taliban feeling
Standing with Malala: Teen inspires others to fight for education
Malala: Global symbol, but still just a kid
$1 million bounty in Malala’s attack
The Malalas you'll never meet
This is just a very sad example of sub-human, religious fanatics! And they have the gaul to even say they will kill her if she survives! Is there ANY surprise as to why muslims / Islam are under the gun? 1.5 Billion muslims?, and you have the FEW representing an intire people & their religion. Makes me think that, just possibly, the FEW are truly representing their religion and that is why the MANY do nothing! ALL religions have skeletons in their closet, BUT, I know of no other, that ACTIVELY teach it is OK to kill anyone who says something against it!! In this case I HOPE that the girl & her family are granted citizenship in another country, because for her to return is a death sentence!
Religion of peace strikes again.
As sad as it is that this girl was shot and nearly killed, what bothers me more is that this Atta Ullah Khan is trying to get a masters degree in Chemistry. Terrorists with backgrounds in Chemistry is more frightening. If he is on the loose and escapes capture, his knowledge of chemistry could be very helpful to Taliban in producing explosives or the more simple chemical weapons. His knowledge could also be used in funding operations via drug preparation... I'd rather see this guy dead.
I agree that is a frightening revelation. On the other hand, we are talking about Pakistan. They wont do anything to these cowards in custody. The taliban runs the place and always will.
Wow, targeting little girls...such "brave and righteous" men those Taliban are, aren't they?
More like: such "cowardly and evil" mysogynists those men are(their mothers must be SO proud).
But that's what you get when you have a culture that denigrates and devalues women.
Grown men, frightened of little girls...
Malala, you go little lady! You've got more "balls" then ALL of the Taliban put together!
Fast recovery, young princess...
hello , i am from lahore, pakistan i like you malala we pray to allah almighty for this girl ...! you are brave and we love those how love pakistan ..!
i love you pakistan and this girl malala ..!
we are with you malala you are great i saw your father talking to media and your pics
Nothing shows the world that your personal ethos is right like shooting a little girl in the head
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