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Monday, November 16, 1998 Published at 11:19 GMT

World: Europe

Becker leaves hospital 'for safety'

Sally Becker: Believes shooting was an assassination attempt

British aid worker Sally Becker has discharged herself from an Albanian hospital where she was recovering from a bullet wound.

Ms Becker's spokesman Mike Mendosa said she had left the hospital on Sunday "for her own safety", and is now resting in a hotel room.

"She is under medical supervision and under guard," Mr Mendosa added.

The BBC's Jane Dreaper: Ms Becker has vowed to continue her work
Ms Becker - who is known as the "Angel of Mostar" after her work in Bosnia - was shot in the right leg while delivering aid to Bajram Curri in northern Albania.

She says the shooting by an unknown gunman was an assassination attempt.

A British nurse who was with her was also beaten during the incident.

Ms Becker's spokesman Mike Mendoza: There are many groups who want to kill her
Mr Mendoza said that he suspected Serbs, who arrested and imprisoned her in July, were behind the attack.

Ms Becker, 38, had gone to Albania as head of the charity Operation Angel, a group of 26 women volunteers taking relief supplies to refugees from Kosovo.

A Foreign Office spokesman said she had been warned not to go to the area, where some 17,000 Kosovo refugees have crossed into Albania following fighting between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serbian security forces.

Second attack

[ image: The crisis forced up to 300,000 ethnic Albanians to flee]
The crisis forced up to 300,000 ethnic Albanians to flee
Ms Becker had been staying in the crime-ridden town, 225 km north east of the capital Tirana, since the beginning of the month.

The shooting was the second attack suffered by Ms Becker in the area recently.

In September, armed bandits forced her from her vehicle at gunpoint and hit her over the head with a rifle.

Ms Becker said after the first attack: "Nothing will stop me and my work. While there are people in need I shall try to help."

Prison sentence

In July, Ms Becker was imprisoned by the Serbs in Kosovo, and sentenced to 30 days in prison for illegally crossing the Albanian-Yugoslav border while trying to help Kosovo refugees.

She was released and deported after going on hunger strike and barred from returning to Kosovo for three years.

Last week Ms Becker tried to fly sick and wounded Kosovar children to the UK for medical aid.

The medical care had been offered free by private surgeons in the UK.

But on Friday, Home Secretary Jack Straw refused visitor visas to the 91-strong group.

Mr Straw said the government did not support the medical evacuation of groups into the UK and had instead donated cash to provide health care and other assistance in the Balkans.

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