ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A Pakistani court on Thursday handed down 25 year prison sentences to each of the ten defendants found guilty of involvement in the 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan's world renowned Nobel Peace Prize-winning teenage activist.
She was attacked -- shot at close range in the head -- by Taliban militants for speaking out in support of girls' education.
Yousafzai was critically wounded in the attack, which took place on a bus as she returned from school in her native city of Mingora, in Pakistan's northern Swat valley. She was subsequently taken to Britain for specialized medical care.}
Her campaign has been widely recognized as an unusual act of bravery in a region where the Taliban sought to close down schools for girls. They have since been largely pushed out of the valley by a Pakistan army campaign.
In addition to the ten men sentenced on Thursday, two key suspects in the case are still at large; Ataullah Khan, an Islamic militant believed to have pulled the trigger, and Maulana Fazlullah, leader of the Pakistani Taliban. Both men are believed to be hiding in Afghanistan.
"We are actively pursuing those two," a senior government official from Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office told CBS News. "Sooner or later, both of them will be caught or killed."
Yousazai went on to gain international recognition for her bravery and last year became the world's youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Western officials in Pakistan hailed Thursday's sentencing as a sign of Pakistan's growing determination to press ahead with their campaign against the Taliban.
"This is extremely encouraging news and sends out a very powerful signal," said a senior western official in Islamabad, who also asked not to be named.
Ghazi Salahuddin, a respected commentator on politics and social issues in Pakistan, was also upbeat, but added a cautious reminder
"This is welcome news, but let's not forget Malala is still living outside Pakistan more than two years after her shooting. She still cannot return home for security reasons," he told CBS News. "The sentencing of these suspects does not change the fact that Pakistan still needs to decisively deal with the challenge (posed by the Taliban)
On April 24, Sabeen Mahmud, a prominent Pakistani campaigner for humanitarian causes was killed by unknown gunmen in the southern port city of Karachi, just hours after she hosted a discussion on Pakistan's southwest Baluchistan province, which remains the scene of an active insurgency by armed nationalists.
So far, the motive for her killing remains unclear. However, Mahmud's assassination has prompted fresh warnings over the fate of activists in Pakistan.
Salahauddin said it was "exactly the kind of incident which reminds us of the huge challenges faced by Pakistanis like Malala who speak out for their rights."