'Because of you, God saved me'
Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for schooling for girls, has released a video message crediting her supporters with aiding her recovery.
Malala underwent reconstructive surgery in the UK at the weekend. Surgeons attached a titanium plate to bridge a gap in her shattered skull.
''Today I can speak and I am getting better day by day,'' she said in a message recorded before the surgery.
Speaking clearly but with a slight stiffness in her upper lip, the schoolgirl thanked her many supporters around the world: "All of them have prayed for me and because of these prayers God has given me this new life."
The video statement was published yesterday, just hours after the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, said surgeons had successfully operated to reconstruct her skull and restore her hearing.
The world was outraged when Taliban militants shot Malala on October 9 on a school bus in northwestern Pakistan.
The Islamist group said it targeted her because she promoted girls' education and "Western thinking" and had criticised the militants' abuses when they took over the Swat Valley where she lived.
Malala has become an international symbol of resistance to the Taliban's efforts to deny women education and other rights, and more than 250000 people have signed online petitions calling for her to be nominated for a Nobel peace prize.
The teenager will continue recuperating at the UK hospital, which has a specialist unit in which doctors have treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.