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Originally published Friday, October 26, 2012 at 4:49 PM

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Pakistani girl's recovery from gunshot a 'miracle,' father says

Malala Yousufzai is recovering at a hospital in England, where she was flown for treatment and protection from Taliban threats after she was shot Oct. 9 in northwestern Pakistan.

The Associated Press

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LONDON — The father of a 15-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban described his daughter's survival and recovery as miraculous Friday, and said her shooting was a turning point for Pakistan.

Malala Yousufzai is recovering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she was flown for treatment and protection from Taliban threats after she was shot Oct. 9 in northwestern Pakistan.

The Islamist militants say they're targeting the teen, who had gained international recognition for being an advocate for girls' education, because she promoted so-called Western thinking and secularism.

Her father, Ziauddin, along with her mother and two brothers were reunited with her Thursday night after flying to Britain.

A photo issued by the hospital showed the wounded teen, her head covered in a light-blue scarf, reclining in her hospital bed with her family gathered by her side.

Ziauddin Yousufzai said he initially feared he would need to prepare for his daughter's funeral and that her status now is "a miracle for us."

"She is recovering at an encouraging speed and we are very happy," he said in Birmingham.

He expressed gratitude for prayers and good wishes that have poured in from all over the world, noting that the attack on his daughter had united left- and right-wing forces in Pakistan in condemnation.

"When she fell, the world stood. She will rise again, she will stand again. She can stand now," Ziauddin Yousufzai said.

A Taliban gunman shot the teenager as she was in a school bus on her way home from school in the Swat Valley city of Mingora. Two other girls were injured in the attack.

The Pakistani Taliban once controlled much of the Swat Valley, where they destroyed numerous schools, many of them for girls, and campaigned against allowing girls to go to school.

Malala Yousufzai was one of the most prominent voices in Swat to speak out against the Taliban, who were largely — though not entirely — driven out of the valley by a Pakistani army offensive in 2009.

She was airlifted to a hospital in Britain on Oct. 15. The Taliban have vowed to kill her, raising questions about whether it would be safe for her to return to Pakistan, but her father has rejected reports the family might seek asylum abroad.

"I love her, and last night when we met her there were tears in our eyes out of happiness," Ziauddin Yousufzai said Friday. "We all cried a little bit."

His daughter has been able to stand up with help from hospital staff members, and she has communicated through writing. Doctors say she will eventually undergo reconstructive surgery to her skull and possibly her jaw, but that she first needs some weeks of rest.

"I'm thankful to all the people all over the world, indifferent to caste, creed, religion, faith, country, age, sex — everyone, everyone across the world," her father said. "They condemned the attack in strong words, and they prayed for my daughter, who is not only my daughter; she is the daughter of everybody, the sister of everybody."

Material from the Los Angeles Times is included in this report.

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