Shot schoolgirl 'responding well'

A 14-year-old schoolgirl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan is responding well to treatment, hospital officials have said.

Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital also confirmed that it had received more than 1,500 messages of support for Malala Yousafzai, who arrived in Britain on Monday.

In its latest statement concerning the schoolgirl's progress, the hospital said: "Malala Yousafzai continues to receive one-to-one nursing care, 24 hours a day, from staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, working alongside colleagues from Birmingham Children's Hospital.

"Her condition remains 'stable' and doctors say she is responding well to treatment."

The statement - issued after a vigil was held in central Birmingham to show solidarity with Malala - added that her family remained in Pakistan.

The hospital, which receives soldiers with gunshot injuries flown back to the UK from Afghanistan, said earlier that Malala spent a third "comfortable" night in hospital and was being assessed by specialist consultants.

Malala, who was attacked for promoting the education of girls and criticising Taliban militants, was initially treated by neurosurgeons at a Pakistani military hospital before being flown to the UK. The teenager was shot with two classmates as they made their way home from school in north west Pakistan, in what Foreign Secretary William Hague described as a "barbaric attack".

Doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which has a decade's experience of treating British military casualties, are now planning the reconstructive operations needed to treat her injuries.

The vigil for Malala, attended by members of Birmingham City Council, was organised by Women2Gether and the Amina Women's Group, which both work to empower women. Many of those present at the vigil held candles, while others held banners proclaiming "I am Malala" in solidarity with the injured teenager.

Labour councillor Mariam Khan, who represents the Washwood Heath area of Birmingham, said she had decided to attend the vigil in a personal capacity and on behalf of her community. Ms Khan told reporters: "Education is one of the key things that takes people forward. I went to school and I went to university and to think that there are people fighting just to go to school puts things into perspective."