A victim of an acid attack on schoolgirls in Afghanistan said on Saturday she was determined to stay in school and finish her education even if that meant risking death.
The girl, who gave her name as just Shamsia, was the most seriously injured of a group of girls attacked outside their school by unidentified men in the southern city of Kandahar on Wednesday.
"I'll continue my schooling even if they try to kill me. I won't stop going to school," Shamsia said from her bed at Afghanistan's main military hospital in Kabul.
Shamsia, 17, suffered damage to one of her eyes when the men pulled off the girls' head scarves and threw acid in their faces. She has been brought to hospital in the capital for treatment.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack but it bore the hallmarks of the Taliban, who banned girls from school during their hardline rule from 1996 to 2001.
The insurgents have attacked and destroyed hundreds of schools across the country since they were forced from power in 2001, after the Sept 11 attacks on the United States.
While some teachers and school caretakers have been killed, most of the attacks on schools have been at night and violence against children has been rare.
The attack on the schoolgirls has shocked a country long used to violence. President Hamid Karzai said the men responsible were the enemies of education.
Shamsia, much of her face covered in a yellow ointment, said she had to finish her lessons to help the country.
"I'll continue going to lessons. I'm studying to be able to build our country," she said.
Senior education official Najiba Nuristani, who was visiting Shamsia in hospital, was also defiant.
"These incidents, these suicide attacks, can not stop education in Afghanistan, especially for girls," she said.
Shamsia's doctor, Mohammad Wali, said the girl had suffered damage to an eye but was in good condition. A medical panel would decide if she needed to be sent to India for treatment, he said.