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Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani teen shot by Taliban, leaves hospital

Malala Yousafzai waves as seh leaves Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Britain. (University Hospitals Birmingham / January 4, 2013)

LONDON -- Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by Taliban gunmen last October, walked out of a hospital Friday to rejoin her family.

Wearing a white patterned headscarf and long gray dress, Malala walked slowly out of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, helped by a nurse, and waved shyly as she went through the door.

The 15-year-old schoolgirl who campaigned for education for girls in Pakistan and wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu service about daily life under the Taliban was attacked on her way to school on Oct. 9.

She was shot in the head and neck by men who blocked the school bus in which she was riding near her home in Mingora in Pakistan's Swat Valley and asked for her by name. She was rushed to a local hospital, then flown to the Birmingham hospital, which specializes in military casualties, a week later for specialist neurosurgery.

A hospital statement said Friday that she would return there "in late January or early February to undergo cranial reconstructive surgery as part of her long-term recovery."

Dr. David Rosser, the medical director, praised Malala, who he said "has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery."

The teenager, who spoke out against the Taliban's opposition to education for girls, focused attention on the plight of women and girls around the world who are struggling for education and social freedoms under repressive regimes. The Taliban has vowed to target her again.

Her family, who traveled to Birmingham from their home in Pakistan, may now stay in Britain, where Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, has been appointed education attache at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham.

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