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Doctors: Girl shot by Taliban able to stand, communicate

The young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out about their oppressive rule is now communicating freely and writing – still weak, but making good progress in her recovery. NBC's Keir Simmons reports.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET: Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban, is able to stand with help and communicate, British doctors treating her severe wounds said on Friday, though she still shows signs of infection.

Yousufzai, who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for advocating education for girls, on Monday was flown from Pakistan to receive treatment at a unit at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital that has expertise in dealing with complex trauma cases. The unit has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.


The hospital also said that Yousufzai was 15 years old, not 14, as had been widely reported.  

Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director at the hospital, said that the girl was "well enough that she's agreed that she's happy, in fact keen, for us to share more clinical detail."   

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Rosser said the infection was probably related to the track of a bullet which grazed her head when she was attacked. Because of the infection, Rosser said, "she is not out of the woods yet."

Fifteen-year-old Malala Yousufzai was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against Pakistani militants and promoting education for girls.

Yousufzai began standing up to the Taliban when she was 11, when the Islamabad government had effectively ceded control of the Swat Valley, where she lives, to the militants.

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The attack on Yousufzai and two other girls as they left school was the culmination of years of campaigning that had pitted the her against one of Pakistan's most ruthless Taliban commanders, Maulana Fazlullah.

The hospital also released more details of the attack on Yousufzai.  She was shot at point blank range and the bullet hit her left brow, but instead of penetrating the skull it traveled underneath the skin along the length of the side of her head and into her neck, landing above her left shoulder-blade. 

While Yousufzai was able to communicate by writing, should could not talk because of a breathing tube in her throat.  She was, however, aware of her surroundings, the hospital said in a statement.

Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban, has been airlifted out of Pakistan and flown to England for treatment of her head and neck injuries. NBC's Keir Simmons reports.

Despite the dramatic development, Rosser emphasized that she was still recovering from a very grave injury.

"But we are hopeful we will make a good recovery," he added in a statement.

NBC News staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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