Shot 15-year-old girl Malala Yousafzai thanks well-wishers

 

A 15-year-old girl who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan has thanked people around the world for their inspiring and humbling support.

Speaking on behalf of Malala Yousafzai exactly a month after she was targeted on a school bus, her father Ziauddin Yousafzai said she wanted to thank well-wishers for helping her to "survive and stay strong".

Malala was flown to Britain for specialist treatment at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital after escaping death by inches when a bullet "grazed" her brain on October 9.

Mr Yousafzai, his wife and their two sons flew to the UK last month to be with Malala, who was travelling home from school with two classmates when she was shot at point-blank range.

In a statement issued by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Mr Yousafzai said: "She wants me to tell everyone how grateful she is and is amazed that men, women and children from across the world are interested in her well-being.

"We deeply feel the heart-touching good wishes of the people across the world of all caste, colour and creed."

Malala, who has been praised for her courage in campaigning for the rights of women and girls in Pakistan, has received thousands of gifts, cards and messages of support since arriving in Birmingham on October 15.

Among the gifts are pocket money "for sweets", the teenager's favourite CDs, school books, clothing, toys and jewellery, while whole classes of pupils have written letters and messages supporting Malala's campaign for girls' education.

In his statement, issued as new pictures were released showing his daughter sitting up reading a book and looking through cards sent to her, Mr Yousafzai added: "I am awfully thankful to all the peace-loving well-wishers who strongly condemn the assassination attempt on Malala, who pray for her health and support the grand cause of peace, education, freedom of thought and freedom of expression."

Doctors have established that a bullet travelled along the left side of Malala's jaw, damaging her skull and jaw joint.

The round, which was removed by surgeons in Pakistan, initially struck Malala's left brow, but, instead of penetrating the skull, travelled underneath the skin along the whole length of the side of her head, and into her neck.

Tomorrow has been declared Malala Day by former UK prime minister Gordon Brown in his role as UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

The "day of action" coincides with Mr Brown's trip to Pakistan to deliver a petition containing more than a million signatures to President Asif Ali Zardari, urging him to make education a reality for all Pakistani children, irrespective of gender.

PA

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