UK & World News
Malala: Al Qaeda Slates Support For Shot Girl
Al Qaeda has reportedly hit out at the widespread support for a schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban - and asked why she has been hailed a heroine.
Malala Yousafzai, 15, is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after being attacked by a gunman in Pakistan, and has since received thousands of goodwill messages.
The hospital said she continues to make steady progress and is in a stable condition after she was admitted a week ago following initial treatment in Pakistan.
The teenager was shot with two classmates as they made their way home from school in Swat, in the north west of the country.
She was attacked by the Taliban for promoting the education of girls and criticising the militant group.
The hospital said a bullet that struck her just above her left eye had grazed the edge of her brain. Foreign Secretary William Hague described the atrocity as "barbaric".
In a letter translated by the Site Intelligence Group, al Qaeda's Pakistani spokesman Ustad Ahmad Farooq asked why Malala's blood was "more important" than those of women killed in military operations.
He also asked why the media and the public were silent about women who die due to poverty.
In the letter, called Why Mourn Malala So Much? and addressed to "(my) beloved Pakistani brothers and sisters", Farooq said: "Nobody spoke up for thousands of such Malalas who became victims of military operations, and nobody protested for them on the roads.
"But these circles made so much noise when we targeted this girl who made fun of jihad, the veil and other Islamic values on behest of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
"This attack created shockwaves in the ruling circles around the world. They issued a number of statements condemning the attack on Malala. I may ask why? Why is Malala's blood more important than those killed by the army?"
Thousands of people have rallied across Pakistan in support of Malala, and people have called for the government to act. Pakistani authorities claim to have made a number of arrests.
Malala has been able to stand with help for the first time in hospital and is "communicating very freely", according to an official.
The girl still cannot talk because she has a tracheotomy tube inserted to protect her airway, which was swollen after the shooting, but she is writing notes, according to Dr Dave Rosser, medical director of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.