Pakistani girl flown to British hospital

Move to provide treatment, safety

Pakistani students held pictures of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai at a tribute held in the United Arab Emirates Monday.
Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press
Pakistani students held pictures of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai at a tribute held in the United Arab Emirates Monday.

BIRMINGHAM, England — A teenage Pakistani activist shot in the head by the Taliban arrived in Britain on Monday to receive specialized medical care and protection from follow-up attacks threatened by the militants.

The attack on 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai as she was returning home from school in Pakistan’s northwest a week ago has horrified people across the South Asian country and abroad. It has also sparked hope that the Pakistani government would respond by intensifying its fight against the Taliban and their allies.

Yousufzai was targeted by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education and criticizing the militant group’s behavior when they took over the scenic Swat Valley where she lived. Two of her classmates were also wounded in the attack and are receiving treatment in Pakistan.


The Taliban have threatened to target Yousufzai again until she is killed because she promotes ‘‘Western thinking.’’

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Yousufzai, who had been receiving treatment at a Pakistani military hospital, arrived at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on Monday afternoon. Doctors believe she ‘‘has a chance of making a good recovery,’’ said Dave Rosser, the hospital’s medical director.

The hospital, which is also home to the Royal Center for Defense Medicine, has extensive experience handling British soldiers injured in battle and advanced equipment that would help Yousufzai’s treatment, Rosser said. He said he had not seen the teen, and declined to provide details of her condition, citing respect for her privacy.

The Royal Center is the primary receiving unit for military casualties returning from overseas, and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is designated as one of the country’s 16 major trauma centers which specialize in treating severe gunshot wounds, major head injuries, and road accident victims.

Pakistan’s military had said a panel of doctors recommended that Yousufzai be shifted to a center in the United Kingdom that has the ability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injuries.


Yousufzai was flown out of Pakistan on Monday morning in a specially equipped air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates, the Pakistani military said.

Video footage handed out by the military showed the girl being wheeled out of the hospital on a stretcher, covered in a white sheet and surrounded by uniformed army officers. She was placed in the back of an ambulance and driven to the airport, where she was put on a plane.

The plane stopped for several hours in the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi on the way to the United Kingdom.

Pakistani doctors at a military hospital earlier removed a bullet from Yousufzai’s body that had entered her head and headed toward her spine. The military has described her recovery as satisfactory and said she was able to move her legs and hands several days ago when her sedatives were reduced. It has not said whether she suffered any brain damage or other permanent damage.

On Monday, the military said damaged bones in Yousufzai’s skull will need to be repaired or replaced, and she will need ‘‘intensive neuro rehabilitation.’’ The decision to send the girl abroad was taken in consultation with her family, and the Pakistani government will pay for her treatment.


Pakistanis have held rallies for Yousufzai throughout the country, but most have numbered only a few hundred people. The largest show of support by far occurred Sunday, when tens of thousands of people held a demonstration in the southern port city of Karachi organized by the most powerful political party in the city, the Muttahida Quami Movement.