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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Injured Ali leaves intensive care
Ali and uncle Abed
Ali and his uncle have been offered citizenship in other countries

A 12-year-old Iraqi boy who lost both his arms and was badly burned in a US missile strike is out of intensive care and walking around unaided, say Kuwaiti officials.

Ali Ismail Abbas was moved from intensive care into a ward at Kuwait's Saud al-Babtain Burns Centre two days ago where he is recovering well, said health ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Shatti.

"He is recovering very beautifully from skin grafts. He is eating, joking and interacting much better, and he started walking very nicely," said Mr Shatti.

"We want his scars to heal nicely, then we'll go into the second phase, which is rehabilitation."

Ali captured hearts worldwide as the sole survivor of a missile strike on March 30 that destroyed his house in Baghdad, killing 20 people including his entire family.

Iraqi doctors - who had amputated his arms above the elbow - feared he would die of blood poisoning as they lacked adequate facilities to provide the specialist treatment he needed.

Spirits high

So an international appeal was launched, and Ali was airlifted to Kuwait where he has since undergone four operations.

Mr Shatti said Ali's spirits were "very high" following visits by a number of international organisations showing him a range of prosthetics he might be fitted with.

Ali Ismail Abbas
Ali's plight touched many around the world

"He asked if he will be able to write," Mr Shatti told the Associated Press news agency.

Ali has also reportedly been offered citizenship by some countries, including Canada - although no decision has been made as he and his uncle are "very attached" to their country, said Mr Shatti.

Kuwait's government has paid the full costs of the boy's treatment, as well as those of several other Iraqis injured in the war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

According to French news agency AFP, at least eight Iraqi children were flown to the oil rich state during the war - it is thought thousands of others are in need of urgent medical help.

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