US President Barack Obama has condemned the shooting of a teenage activist in Pakistan by the Taliban as "barbaric".
Schools across the country closed in protest and communities held vigils to pray for the girl Malala Yousufzai, who is in a critical condition.
The 14-year-old was hit in the head and neck when a gunman opened fire on her school bus in Pakistan's Swat Valley.
"I know that the President found the news reprehensible and disgusting and tragic," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
He added that US forces were ready to offer transport and treatment to the youngster if appropriate.
Malala had spoken out against the Islamists in a blog - and her desire to go to school and become a doctor.
She became an overnight celebrity in the process, and was awarded Pakistan's highest civilian award after the army liberated Swat from Taliban control.
"She is a national asset to us. May Allah give her a long life. We are praying for her recovery. What happened to her was very bad," said banker Ahmed Abbas.
Pakistan's president, prime minister and heads of various opposition parties joined human rights groups and the United Nations to denounce the attack.
The UK's Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi also condemed the shooting as "cowardly".
"Through her inspirational-activism, Malala has bravely highlighted the need for education to be accessible to all children in Pakistan," she said.
"Our thoughts and prayers go to Malala and her friends and family, and to the people of Pakistan who have suffered so much from terrorism.
"They will always have our sympathy, our understanding, and our robust support in confronting terrorism and supporting education for all in Pakistan".
The Taliban claimed responsibility for shooting Malala, saying she had been promoting Western culture and spoke out against them. They justified the shooting by citing passages from the Koran.
Special aircraft have been sent to the northwestern city of Peshawar in case doctors want to move Malala to Dubai for treatment. She remains in intensive care in hospital after surgeons removed a bullet from her neck.
Another girl on the bus was also wounded.