The horrific moment a Taliban gunman boarded a packed school bus and shot a teenage education activist twice at point blank range has been relived by her devastated friend. Malala Yousafzai, 14, was critically injured after being shot while travelling home from school earlier this week. The brave teenager was targeted by the Taliban after speaking out against atrocities committed under the regime. According to Malala's friend Shazia, speaking to the Christian Science Monitor, a group of militants riding on a bike stopped the bus carrying the schoolgirls. Masked men then boarded the vehicle and pointed guns at the girls, asking for Malala. A hooded Taliban militant shouted: 'Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all. She is propagating against the soldiers of Allah, the Taliban. She must be punished.' Almost as soon as he shouted this, the militant recognised the youngster and shot her at point blank range. The shooting has horrified people in Pakistan and internationally, and has been followed by an outpouring of respect for a girl who earned the enmity of the Taliban for publicising their acts and speaking about the importance of girls' education. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying that the girl was promoting 'Western thinking'. Malala was shot twice at close range and is currently unconscious in hospital in a critical condition. Speaking to CBS News, a close friend of the family said doctors had given relatives a 'ray of hope' .
The woman said MRI scans showed that a bullet which had entered the skull did not cause significant damage to her brain. A number of people have been arrested by police in Pakistan in connection with the shooting. A Taliban spokesman said the top leadership of the Taliban's Swat Valley chapter decided two months ago to kill Yousufzai in a carefully-planned attack after her family ignored repeated warnings.