The Pakistan branch of the Taliban has vowed to attack Malala Yousafzai again if they get the chance, saying the young education rights campaigner has "no courage".

"She is not a brave girl and has no courage. We will target her again and attack whenever we have a chance," Shahidullah Shaid, spokesman for the main Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan's umbrella group told AFP news agency on Monday.

Gunmen sent by the Taliban tried to kill Malala on her school bus on October 9 last year.

The Taliban says the attack on Malala was because of her anti-Islam remarks and not her pursuit of education, "She even used a fake name of Gul Makai to write a diary. We attacked Malala because she was used to speak against Taliban and Islam and not because she was going to school," Shahid said.

Malala has dismissed the threats against her life and repeated her desire to return to Pakistan from Britain, where she currently resides, she said in an interview with BBC.

International recognition

Malala is not a stranger to such threats having first rose to prominence during the Taliban's 2007-2009 rule in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley with a blog for the BBC Urdu service chronicaling the struggle of daily life under Taliban rule.

Her publicised criticism of the Taliban and its violent action against girls' schools meant she was soon targeted by the group who shot her in the neck and head on her way home from school last year.

She amazingly survived the attack and bacame a global ambassador for the right of all children, girls as well as boys, to go to school.

Having spread a message of "education for all" across the globe, the 16-year-old,  is now among the favourites for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be awarded on Friday.

She recently was given the RAW in WAR Anna Politkovskaya Award, named after the Russian journalist who was shot dead seven years ago. The award promotes women who have defended human rights.

Source: Agencies