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UK police concerned about wounded Pakistani girl’s ‘well-wishers’

Reuters

October 16, 2012 | 10:09 am

A girl holding a portrait of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai during a candlelight vigil organized by Nepalese Youth in Kathmandu on Oct. 15. Photo by REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

A girl holding a portrait of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai during a candlelight vigil organized by Nepalese Youth in Kathmandu on Oct. 15. Photo by REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Two people wanting to visit the Pakistani girl wounded by Taliban gunmen raised suspicion in Britain on Tuesday after turning up overnight at the hospital where she is undergoing treatment, the hospital and police said.

Authorities are highly sensitive about Malala Yousufzai's security because the Taliban, who targeted her for advocating education for girls, say they would again try to kill the 14-year-old if she survived last week's attack.

Yousufzai was flown from Pakistan to Birmingham to receive specialist treatment after the shooting, which drew widespread condemnation. She has become a potent symbol of resistance to the radical Islamist group's effort to deny women an education.

"A number of people turned up claiming to be members of Malala's family which we don't believe to be true," Dave Rosser, the hospital's medical director, told Britain's Sky News. "They didn't get very far. Security is well under control."

Police said two people came to the hospital overnight wishing to see her but were questioned and turned away.

"They were stopped in a public area of the hospital and questioned by police, who recorded their details and advised the pair that they would not be allowed to see her," West Midlands Police said in a statement, describing them as "well-wishers".

There are a large number of Asian Muslims in Birmingham's population. The Pakistani diaspora in Britain is estimated to number 1.2 million.

Yousufzai has been in critical condition since gunmen shot her in the head and neck as she left school in Swat, northwest of Islamabad.

In Pakistan, Taliban insurgents said on Tuesday she deserved to die because she had spoken out against their group and praised U.S. President Barack Obama.

British doctors have said Yousufzai has every chance of making a "good recovery" at a special hospital unit expert in dealing with complex trauma cases. It has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

"It's obvious that Malala will need reconstructive surgery. We have international experts in that field," Rosser said, adding that she had had a comfortable night on Monday and that doctors are pleased with her progress.

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

The attack was the culmination of years of campaigning that had pitted the girl against one of Pakistan's most ruthless Taliban commanders, Maulana Fazlullah.

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