Bogus 'family' barred from visiting Malala

2012-10-16 14:05

London - Several people claiming to be relatives of the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban tried to enter the British hospital where she is being treated, an official said on Tuesday.

The medical director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where Malala Yousufzai is in intensive care stressed that the incidents did not create any security concerns and police said nobody was arrested.

"We have had some, I guess I would say, irritating incidents overnight and I understand that a number of people have been arrested but there are no security concerns," hospital medical director David Rosser told journalists.

"I understand that a number of people turned up claiming to be members of Malala's family - which we don't believe to be true - and have been arrested."

However a police spokesperson denied that any arrests were made.

"We are investigating what happened but I can confirm that there were no arrests," the spokesperson for West Midlands Police said.

Chance of 'good recovery'

The teenager spent a comfortable first night in the hospital, Rosser said, after she arrived in Birmingham in central England on a flight from Pakistan on Monday.

In an attack which outraged the world, Malala was shot on a school bus in the former Taliban stronghold of the Swat valley last Tuesday as a punishment for campaigning for the right to an education.

Rosser said British colleagues who were in Pakistan when Malala was shot believed she had "a chance of making a good recovery".

"Clearly it would be inappropriate on every level, not least for her, to put her through all of this if there was no hope of decent recovery," he told reporters.

The teenager, who had a bullet removed from her skull last week, is in intensive care in the highly specialised hospital in central England, where British servicemen who are seriously wounded in Afghanistan are treated.

Doctors in Pakistan have said Malala needs treatment for a damaged skull and "intensive neuro-rehabilitation".

Attack on all girls

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday that the shooting was an attack on all girls in the country - and on civilisation itself.

"The Taliban attack on the 14-year-old girl, who from the age of 11 was involved in the struggle for education for girls, is an attack on all girls in Pakistan, an attack on education, and on all civilised people," Zardari said at an economic summit in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.

Asked if Malala will be guarded at the Birmingham hospital, British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesperson said: "You wouldn't expect me to talk about security matters in detail but certainly security has been taken into account."

Rosser warned that Malala faces a long road to recovery.

"We do unfortunately have very extensive experience of dealing with this sort of traumatic bullet related injury," he said.

"Our experience with battle casualties, and you can deal with her as a battle casualty from a physiological point of view, is that patients need lots of different specialities."

The shooting has been denounced worldwide, including Pakistan, which is meeting the costs of her treatment.