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News World news United States US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot as six die in

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A US congresswoman was shot in the head at point blank range today and six people killed, including a nine-year-old child and a federal judge, at a public meeting outside a grocery shop in Arizona.

Gabrielle Giffords, a 40-year-old Democratic member of the House of Representatives, was airlifted to University Medical Centre in Tucson where she underwent surgery. A surgeon at the hospital said Giffords was in a critical condition following the operation last night, but added: "I am very optimistic about her."

Describing the shooting as "an unspeakable tragedy," President Barack Obama asked people to pray for "a friend of mine" who was battling for her life. "While we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded," he said. "Gaby is not only an extraordinary public servant but also someone who is warm and kind, who was liked by her colleagues and her constituents."

He added that she had been "doing what she always does, listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbours", and ordered the FBI to oversee the investigation into the shooting.

Giffords's assailant was last night named as a 22-year-old Afghanistan veteran Jared Lee Loughner. He was described by witnesses as a young white man who looked like a "fringe character", clean shaven with short hair and wearing dark clothing.

After shooting Giffords, he used an automatic weapon to shoot up to 30 people leaving several dead and 18 wounded, many of whom were also airlifted to hospital. Among the dead, according to Pima County sheriffs, were the child, and the US District Judge John Roll, who had been involved in immigration cases and had previously received death threats.

Only when Loughner ran out of ammunition did he attempt to flee. One of Giffords's aides tackled the assailant and pinned him down until police arrived.

Giffords had been named as a political campaign target for conservatives in last November's mid-term elections by former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin because of her strong support for Obama's reforms. Palin had published a "target map" on her website using images of gun sights to identify 20 House Democrats, including Giffords, for backing the new healthcare law.

Palin came under huge criticism last night for her campaign and issued a statement via her Facebook page offering her "sincere condolences" to Giffords and her family.

The shooting happened shortly after 10am local time outside a Safeway store in Tucson. Loughner ran up and opened fire on Giffords while she was talking to a couple. The event, called "Congress on Your Corner", was designed to allow members of Giffords's 8th Congressional district to meet her face to face. The congresswoman herself had used Twitter shortly before the shooting, saying: "My first Congress on Your Corner starts now. Please stop by to let me know what is on your mind or tweet me later."

Witnesses said that the gunman ran into a "crowded area" and began "firing indiscriminately". Andrea Gooden, who was working across the road from the scene, said: "I heard about 15 shots. Then there were people racing across the parking lot."

Another witness, Steven Rayle, who helped restrain Loughner , said: "The event was very informal. Giffords had set up a table outside the Safeway and about 20 or 30 people were gathered to talk to her. The gunman, who may have come from inside the Safeway, walked up and shot Giffords in the head first."

Jason Pekau, an employee at a shop close to today's shooting, said two bodies were covered on the pavement after emergency services had arrived at the scene.

Giffords, who was born in Tucson and has two children, took office in January 2007 supporting immigration control, embryonic stem-cell research and the right to abortion.

While the motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, Giffords is one of 10 Democrat members of Congress who were the subject of harassment over their support for the healthcare overhaul. Giffords's Tuscon constituency office was vandalised last March after she voted in favour of President Obama's controversial health bill, which has been bitterly opposed by the American right.

At another event in 2009 which was similar to the one Giffords was holding , a protester was removed by police when his pistol fell to the supermarket floor.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, told CNN that Giffords's office had been shot at before and that she had received death threats in the past. Although a Democrat, Giffords was a strong supporter of the right to bear arms and was re-elected to her third term last November in congressional elections, edging out the Tea Party favourite Jesse Kelly.

Giffords is married to Mark Kelly, an astronaut who is expected to command the space shuttle Endeavour on the final planned mission of America's shuttle programme this spring, and a veteran of the Gulf War. Giffords served as chairwoman of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and also holds seats on the House Science and Technology and Armed Services committees.

Giffords is the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from Arizona and the third female ever to be elected for that state. She has been building up an prominent public profile with frequent appearances in the national media.

The US Capitol Police force said last night that it was advising members of the House of Representatives and their aides to "take reasonable and prudent precautions" about their own security in the wake of the shooting.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/08/gabrielle-giffords-shot-tucson-arizona


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Really, really shocking stuff. Absolute nutcase the shooter and just hope she pulls through.
 
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Oh my God. Simply unbelievable. I hope she get through it.
 
Nice Guy Gramps
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Not surprised to be honest. Sad thing to say, but there's so many political nutcases over there it's unreal. From what I've heard, she's expected to full recover.
 
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Not surprised to be honest. Sad thing to say, but there's so many political nutcases over there it's unreal. From what I've heard, she's expected to full recover.
I'm not sure you can fully recover from being shot in the head.
 
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Its probably another Goverment Job

she probs got on the wrong side of obama
 
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Seeing as she's a Democrat, I guess the shooter will be some hillbilly redneck who thinks Obama is trying to turn the US into Cuba or something like that.
 
Nice Guy Gramps
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I'm not sure you can fully recover from being shot in the head.
Thats what I thought, especially when reading the bullet when straight through her brain. But the docs are "very optomistic". ****** lucky too
 
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Been following this tonight, thinking of gun culture in the US etc etc.

But then, the local reporter as on the BBC earlier, Kimberley so and so from the local Tucson tv station and guess what its called?

KGUN9!

And yes, to all intents and purposes she is likely to recover, possibly went straight through or at the correct angle?

How ironic!
 
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Its probably another Goverment Job

she probs got on the wrong side of obama
Facepalm.

She's a democrat, and has supported several controversial Obama bills as stated in the article you clearly didn't read.
 
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Feel so sorry for the parents of the 9 year old girl aswell. absolutely tragic. For what reason?
 

Jak

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holy **** this is shocking. Can't believe she survived the initial shot, hopefully she can recover. My condolences to the families of those that were killed
 
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Feel so sorry for the parents of the 9 year old girl aswell. absolutely tragic. For what reason?
Obama said earlier that they didn't know as yet, however, she was pro-abortion among other things coupled with the easy access to guns. :(
 
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being shot in the head doesn't warrant death ALWAYS but I do agree
 
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Whoa, that's some ****** up **** right there. :S
 
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Shows how moderate a society we are in comparison. It's one of the reasons why when anyone criticises the UK I get rather riled up. Hope she pulls through, she doesn't deserve this.
 
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