malala-prayer-afp-670
Children pray for the early recovery of Malala Yousufzai next to her photograph as they pay tribute. — Photo by AFP

KABUL: Schools in Afghanistan opened Saturday with special prayers for the quick recovery of Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by Taliban, in a move officials said was to show solidarity with her.

The Pakistani Taliban shot the teenage rights activist in the head on her school bus Tuesday, to avenge her campaigns for the right to an education in the militants' former stronghold of Swat.

The shooting of the 14-year-old activist was denounced around the world.

“To show sympathy to Malala Yousufzai around 9.5 million students all over the country in 15,500 schools and education centres offered prayers for her quick recovery,” education ministry spokesman Amanullah Iman told AFP.

“The students also expressed their solidarity to their sister (Malala) because the attack on her was an attack on education,” he said.

“Malala is just a girl and student like us, she shouldn't have been shot,” Freshta, a 10 grade pupil told AFP.

“Today we recited Quran and prayed for her recovery,” she said.

The show of solidarity to Malala comes two days after armed men attacked a girls' school in relatively peaceful Bamyan province in central Afghanistan, causing considerable damage but no injuries, official said.

The Taliban government, removed from power by a US-led invasion in 2001, had enforced a strict ban on girls attending schools.

There are fears that gains made by women and girls since the Taliban were ousted from power in a US-led invasion in 2001 could be eroded when international troops pull out by 2014.