Islamabad: Pakistani security agencies have arrested three brothers of a senior Taliban commander from Swat during a raid for alleged links to the near-fatal attack on teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai, who is still on ventilator in hospital and making "slow and steady" progress.
The suspects, who were arrested on Saturday in Nowshera district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, were sent to an undisclosed location for questioning, officials said. The officials told the media that another brother of the three men was a senior commander in the Taliban faction led by Maulana Fazlullah, who controlled Swat till the army launched an operation there in early 2009.
The suspects were held a day after Swat district police chief Gul Afzal Khan Afridi announced that they had made an "important breakthrough" by arresting three other men, whose identity not disclosed, on suspicion of involvement in the attack on 14-year-old Malala.
Afridi had said police were hopeful of arresting Ataullah, the alleged mastermind of Tuesday's attack on Malala and two of her school friends, soon. Earlier, police and security agencies had detained dozens of suspects for questioning in connection with the attack. The driver of Malala's school bus too was questioned.
Most of these people were released after questioning. On Malala's condition, the military on Sunday said she was making "slow and steady progress."
"Doctors have reviewed Malala's condition and are satisfied. She is making slow and steady progress which is in keeping with expectations," chief military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement.
Malala has been on ventilator since she was shifted from Peshawar to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi on Thursday after doctors removed a bullet lodged near her backbone. She was shot in the head and neck during the Taliban attack on her and two of her school friends on Tuesday. Bajwa said recovery from "this type of injury is always slow."