Pakistani girl shot by Taliban leaves UK hospital

LONDON (AP) — Three months after she was shot in the head for daring to say girls should be able to get an education, a 15-year-old Pakistani hugged her nurses and smiled as she walked out of a Birmingham hospital.

Malala Yousufzai waved to a guard and smiled shyly as she cautiously strode down the hospital corridor talking to nurses in images released Friday by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

“She is quite well and happy on returning home — as we all are,” Malala’s father, Ziauddin, told The Associated Press.

Malala, who was released Thursday, will live with her parents and two brothers in Britain while she continues to receive treatment. She will be admitted again in the next month for another round of surgery to rebuild her skull.

Experts have been optimistic that Malala, who was airlifted from Pakistan in October to receive specialized medical care, has a good chance of recovery because the brains of teenagers are still growing and can better adapt to trauma.

The Taliban targeted Malala because of her relentless objection to the group’s regressive interpretation of Islam that limits girls’ access to education. She was shot while returning home from school in Pakistan’s scenic Swat Valley on Oct. 9.

Her case won worldwide recognition, and the teen became a symbol for the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan. In an indication of her reach, she made the shortlist for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2012.

The militants have threatened to target Malala again because they say she promotes “Western thinking,” but a security assessment in Britain concluded the risk was low in releasing her to her family. British police have provided security for her at the hospital, but West Midlands Police refused to comment on any security precautions for Malala or her family going forward.

Pakistani doctors removed a bullet that entered her head and traveled toward her spine before Malala’s family decided to send her to Britain for specialized treatment. Pakistan is paying.

Pakistan also appointed Malala’s father as its education attache in Birmingham for at least three years, meaning Malala is likely to remain in Britain for some time.

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