Malala Yousafzai, schoolgirl shot by Taliban, now in UK

Dr David Rosser: "We do have very extensive experience of this sort of traumatic, bullet-related injury"

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Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Swat, has arrived in the UK for medical treatment.

A renowned campaigner for girls' education, she was attacked on her way home from school last Tuesday and a bullet was removed from her skull.

The Taliban said they targeted her for "promoting secularism".

She is in a serious condition and is being seen by doctors at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Malala was flown from Pakistan on board an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates and accompanied by a full medical team.

A bullet which hit Malala's skull was removed by surgeons in Peshawar in north-west Pakistan last week but she was later transferred to a military hospital for more specialist treatment.

Although Pakistan had initially insisted she could be treated in her home country, a military statement said that a panel of doctors had recommended she be "shifted abroad to a UK centre which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury".

On arrival at Birmingham Airport, she was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance, travelling at a slow speed because of the nature of her wounds.

The hospital has a recently-opened major trauma centre specialising in both gunshot wounds and head injuries.

Its specialist team has 10 years of experience of treating UK military casualties and Medical Director Dr David Rosser said Malala Yousafzai "could be viewed as a battle casualty", which put doctors there "in a good position to treat her".

Security, he added, was taken very seriously "at the best of times".

Education campaigner

Malala Yousafzai came to prominence in 2009 at the age of 11, when she started writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban.

Malala Yousafzai (file image)

Under the pen-name Gul Makai, she described the problems caused by militants who had taken control of the Swat Valley where she lived in 2007 and ordered girls' schools to close.

Although the Taliban were ousted from Swat in 2009, her role as a young campaigner for girls' education meant that she received death threats.

She was attacked last week as she returned home from school in the town of Mingora, in the Swat Valley.

Two armed men stopped the van she was travelling in. One of them entered the vehicle, asked which of the girls inside was Malala, and fired three shots, hitting her in the head and wounding two others.

The bullet that went into her skull had to be removed from close to her spinal cord.

Start Quote

I felt hurt on opening my wardrobe and seeing my uniform, school bag and geometry box. Boys' schools are opening tomorrow, but the Taliban have banned girls' education”

End Quote Malala Yousafzai Diary entry, 8 February 2009

After she was moved to a military hospital in Rawalpindi, a panel of doctors decided she needed "prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of trauma", the Pakistani military said.

The doctors had advised that if she were to be moved abroad, it should be "during this time window whilst her condition was optimal and before any unforeseen complications had set in," the statement added.

Once Malala recovers sufficiently, she is expected to need treatment to repair or replace damaged bones in her skull and to undergo neurological treatment.

The Taliban have threatened to target her again. She was given tight security while she was being treated in Pakistan and on board the air ambulance, which stopped in Abu Dhabi on its way to Birmingham.

'Example to us all'

Dozens of people have been arrested in Swat in connection with the shooting, and most have since been released on bail.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague: "It was a cowardly attack on her and her school friends"

A rally in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on Sunday attracted thousands of demonstrators in support of the teenaged campaigner, by far the largest protest against the attack.

The UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague said the shooting had "shocked Pakistan and the world" and her bravery was "an example to us all".

"The public revulsion and condemnation of this cowardly attack shows that the people of Pakistan will not be beaten by terrorists," he said. "The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism."

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown - now the UN's Special Envoy for Global Education - has announced the launch of a petition in Malala's name "in support of what Malala fought for".

"The petition calls on Pakistan to ensure that every girl like Malala has the chance to go to school," he said, while also calling on the international community to ensure all children have access to education by the end of 2015.

Mr Brown said he would hand the petition to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari when he visited Islamabad next month.

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