11 Oct 2012

Pakistan girl improving after surgery

9:35 pm on 11 October 2012

A Pakistani child shot in the head by the Taliban is slowly improving, but will remain sedated in intensive care until at least Friday, a relative says.

The shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai on a school bus in the Swat valley has been denounced worldwide and by the Pakistani authorities, who have offered a reward of more than $US100,000 for the gunmen.

Two of her friends were also injured in the attack on Monday. There are mounting questions about how the attack could have happened and how the perpetrators simply walked away in an area with a visible police and army presence, AFP reports.

On Wednesday, doctors successfully removed a bullet lodged near her shoulder, where it came to rest after entering her head.

"Doctors have told us her condition is improving," said Mehmoodul Hasan, one of Malala's relatives at the military hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar where she is being treated.

United States President Barack Obama, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and Pakistani leaders have expressed horror at the attack on a girl who campaigned for the right to an education during a two-year Taliban insurgency which the army said it had crushed in 2009.

Mr Obama believed the shooting was "reprehensible and disgusting and tragic", White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"Directing violence at children is barbaric, it's cowardly, and our hearts go out to her and the others who were wounded as well as their families," he said.

Preparations had been made to fly the girl abroad, but a military source told AFP that she was too ill to travel. Mr Carney said US forces were ready to offer transport and treatment to the teenager if needed.

Malala Yousafzai gained international prominence after highlighting Taliban atrocities in Swat with a blog for the BBC three years ago, when the Islamist militants burned girls' schools and terrorised the valley before the army intervened.

Then aged just 11, her struggle resonated with tens of thousands of girls denied an education by Islamist militants across northwest Pakistan, where the government has been fighting local Taliban since 2007.

The Taliban, who have killed thousands of people across Pakistan in the past five years and destroyed hundreds of girls' schools, have issued a statement saying that any female who opposes them should be killed.