A group of doctors performed a three-hour-long surgery today to remove a bullet lodged near the spine of 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was attacked by the Taliban for speaking out against the atrocities of militants.
A team led by Mumtaz Khan, head of the neurosurgery department of Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital, carried out the operation at a military hospital between 2am and 5am, officials said. Khan told reporters he was hopeful about Malala's recovery.
The doctors also took steps to reduce the swelling in Malala's head. Though the bullet was removed, there was "excessive bleeding" during the surgery and Malala was not fully stable as yet, officials said.
Malala's uncle Ahmed Shah too told the media in Peshawar that the bullet had been removed during the surgery. He said that doctors had advised against sending Malala, the first recipient of Pakistan's National Peace Award for Youth, outside the country for treatment.
Doctors said it would not be advisable for her to travel in her condition. The next ten days would be crucial for her, Shah quoted the doctors as saying.
A medical board comprising top military surgeons from Rawalpindi and neurosurgeons from Islamabad met in Peshawar to decide on steps to be taken for Malala's treatment. The teenager is currently in the intensive care unit of the military hospital in Peshawar.
The Pakistan International Airlines placed an air ambulance on standby at Peshawar to fly Malala to Dubai if needed, officials said.
Malala was hit by two bullets yesterday when Taliban militants fired at her inside a school bus at Mingora, the main town of the Swat Valley located 160 km from Islamabad.
One bullet hit her in the head and travelled downwards before lodging close to her backbone.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan had claimed responsibility for the attack in phone calls to journalists in the country's northwest. He said Malala was targeted because of her "pro-West" views and for "negative propaganda" against the Taliban.
Ihsan said the girl would "not be spared" for her opposition to the Taliban and would be targeted again if she survived.
Malala had emerged as an unlikely champion of peace in the former Taliban stronghold of Swat after she wrote about the atrocities of the militants in a blog for BBC Urdu under the pseudonym of Gul Makai.