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Alleged Attackers of Malala Yousafzai Secretly Escaped Jail Time

Eight of 10 men suspected of shooting the teen activist Malala Yousafzai were reportedly acquitted during a highly-secretive trial.
June 5, 2015, 6:30pm
Photo by Hakon Mosvold Larsen/EPA

Pakistani officials have confirmed that only two of 10 suspected Taliban members allegedly involved in the assault of Nobel peace-prize winning teen activist Malala Yousafzai were actually imprisoned, while the rest were set free, and their whereabouts are unknown.

Earlier reports in April stated all 10 men had received jail terms of 25 years each for allegedly shooting the then-15-year-old in the head and neck on a school bus in 2012. Neither the government nor army had corrected the reports at the time.

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But on Friday, several officials in Swat, Pakistan confirmed all but two of the men were acquitted during the highly secretive trial because "not enough evidence was produced," the BBC reported.

The London-based Daily Mirror reportedly discovered the acquittals after unsuccessfully attempting to locate the suspects in Pakistani prisons.

Azad Khan, Pakistan's deputy police chief, told the Associated Press he does not know why authorities did not attempt to rectify initial reports that all 10 men had been convicted and imprisoned.

"I can only confirm that the anti-terrorism court in April had acquitted eight out of 10 militants accused of attacking Malala," he said.

"We will continue our efforts to arrest all those who were linked to the attack on Malala and who are at large," senior Pakistani police officer Salim Marwat told the AP.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the 2012 attack on the teen, who was born and raised in the Swat city of Mingora. She was targeted for championing education rights for girls in the country, but survived after receiving emergency surgery in Pakistan, and was later transferred to the UK to recover from her injuries.

Yousafzai, who is now 17, remains active in women's and education advocacy work, and currently lives in Birmingham, England with her family. Her press officers declined to comment on the reports Friday, according to the AP.