A Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban because she campaigned for the right to education was in a "stable" condition and making steady progress in her recovery, the military said Sunday.
The shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai has been denounced worldwide and by the Pakistani authorities, who have offered a reward of more than $100,000 for the capture of her attackers.
She is being treated at the country's top military hospital in Rawalpindi, the twin city of the capital Islamabad, where doctors on Sunday removed her ventilator for a "successful" short trial, the military said in a statement, adding it was later reconnected "to avoid patient's fatigue".
Her condition "is stable... she is making steady and satisfactory progress", according to the statement.
A military spokesman earlier in the day said Malala was "making slow and steady progress, which is in keeping with expectations. Recovery from this type of injury is always slow".
No decision has been made on whether to send Malala abroad for treatment, with spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa telling AFP that doctors were continuing to monitor her condition.
An official in the United Arab Emirates has said the Gulf state was ready to send a plane to Pakistan to evacuate Malala for further treatment.
"As a contingency, Pakistan has arranged a specially equipped air ambulance with the UAE, which will be used if the decision to shift her abroad is taken by the board of doctors," the military said.
The cold-blooded murder attempt has sickened Pakistan, where Malala came to prominence with a blog for the BBC highlighting atrocities under the Taliban, who terrorised the Swat valley from 2007 until a 2009 army offensive.
Activists say the shooting should be a wake-up call to whose who advocate appeasement with the Taliban. But analysts suspect there will be no significant change in a country that has sponsored radical Islam for decades.
Thousands of people gathered in Karachi for a rally in support of Malala, organised by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party.
MQM leader Altaf Hussain called the attack claimed by the Taliban a shameful and cowardly act.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf visited Malala in hospital on Friday, paying tribute to her and two friends who were also wounded when a gunman boarded their school bus on Tuesday and opened fire.
Schools and mosques across Pakistan held special prayers for the wounded schoolgirl, who underwent surgery on Wednesday to remove a bullet from between her shoulders.
Bajwa told a news conference on Saturday that all available resources were being used to investigate the shooting, though he declined to say how many people were in custody.
A senior police official in Peshawar late Sunday told AFP investigators were questioning dozens of suspects, but the hunt for the main culprits was ongoing.
Ahmad Shah, police station chief in the northwestern town of Mingora where Malala was shot, has said nearly 200 people were detained over the shooting, including the bus driver and a school watchman. But most had been released.
The shooting has heightened speculation that the army may finally launch a long-rumoured offensive against the Taliban in their stronghold of North Waziristan, on the Afghan border.sjd/ao