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Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai released from UK hospital

Saturday, January 5, 2013 - 7:00am

Nearly three months after she was rushed to Britain for life-saving treatment for gunshot injuries, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai has recovered enough strength to be discharged, a hospital said Friday.

Malala, who was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on October 15, left the medical facility Thursday to continue her convalescence at her family's temporary home in England's West Midlands region.

The 15-year-old became an international symbol of courage after she was shot by Taliban gunmen last fall for her crusade about girls going to school.

She had blogged fearlessly about girls' education and accused the Taliban of thriving on ignorance. The Taliban forbid girls in the classroom and have threatened to kill anyone who defies them.

The attack, which left her with gunshot wounds to the head and neck, prompted outrage and wide outpourings of support, both in Pakistan and overseas.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife welcomed the news of her progress Friday, saying via Twitter: "Good news that Malala is well enough to leave hospital. We wish her well as her recovery continues with her family."

Malala will continue to receive outpatient care at the hospital, its statement said, and is expected to undergo cranial reconstructive surgery in the next month.

"Malala is a strong young woman and has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery, said Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director of the University Hospitals Birmingham.

"Following discussions with Malala and her medical team, we decided that she would benefit from being at home with her parents and two brothers."

Rosser said Malala had been leaving the hospital for home visits on a regular basis over the past couple of weeks to see if she could cope there.

Her father Ziauddin, mother Toorpekai and younger brothers, Khushal and Atul, traveled to England in the fall to be with her as she recovers.

Pakistani officials confirmed Thursday that her father has been given a job in a Pakistani consulate in Birmingham.

Ziauddin Yousufzai has been appointed education attache and will function as head of the consulate's education section for three years, the Pakistani government said. His job could be extended for two additional years.

When he left Pakistan to join his daughter, Ziauddin Yousufzai told reporters he intended to return to his native country as soon as she had recovered. It is not clear whether his appointment will mean the entire family stays long term.

At the time of his daughter's shooting, he ran a school in Pakistan's conservative Swat Valley that kept its doors open to girls -- in defiance of the Taliban.

Malala was in a school van in the area on October 9 when Taliban gunmen stopped the vehicle and demanded that other girls tell them who was Malala. They identified her. Malala was then shot, as were two other girls who survived the attack with lesser injuries.

Malala was left in a critical condition, with her father later describing her survival as a miracle.

As public outrage over her shooting intensified, the Taliban issued a statement online saying that if Malala lived, they'd come after her again.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik promised government protection if the schoolgirl does return to Pakistan. Pakistani authorities are paying for her medical care in Britain.

Since her shooting, Malala has become an international figure. She was selected as runner-up for Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2012.

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