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Anti-Taliban schoolgirl is shot

A 14-year-old who championed Pakistani girls' rights to an education has been shot by the Taliban.

Malala Yousufzai, an International Children's Peace Prize nominee, was hit twice but doctors said her injuries were not life-threatening.

The gunman had walked up to a bus taking her and other children home from school in Pakistan's volatile Swat Valley.

Malala is known for championing the education of girls and publicising atrocities committed by the Taliban.

The bus was about to leave the school grounds in the city of Mingora when a bearded man approached it and asked which one of the girls was Malala, said police. Another girl pointed to Malala, but the activist denied it was her and the gunmen then shot both of the girls. Both are in hospital.

Malala and her family had been threatened previously by the Taliban for her activism. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, calling her work "obscenity."

The attack displayed the viciousness of Islamic militants in Swat Valley, where the military conducted a major operation in 2009 to clear out insurgents. It was a reminder of the challenges of keeping the area free of militant influence.

The problems of young women in Pakistan were also the focus of a separate case before the high court, which ordered a probe into an alleged barter of seven girls to settle a blood feud in a remote south-western district.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry began proceedings into the allegations, which were first reported in the local media. The alleged trade happened in the Dera Bugti district of Baluchistan province between two groups within the Bugti tribe, one of the more prominent tribes in the province.

The tradition of families exchanging unmarried girls to settle feuds is banned under Pakistani law but still practised in the country's more conservative, tribal areas.

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