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Injured Congresswoman undergoes brain surgery

world Updated: Jan 09, 2011 17:07 IST

PTI
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The US Congresswoman, who was shot by a gunman in Arizona, underwent a brain surgery after the bullet fired at a close range passed through her head.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who officials believe was the target of the shootout remained in critical condition after the brain surgery, though doctors said they were hopeful of her recovery.

The bullet, from a semiautomatic pistol, entered her head from the front and exited through the rear after passing through her brain in what doctors described as a "through and through" injury.

The mass shooting that besides gravely wounding Giffords, killed a federal judge amongst five more people, has shocked the nation and raised concerns that the heated political discourse had taken a dangerous turn.

Giffords underwent brain surgery after the shooting that authorities said was a targeted attempt on her life.

Neurosurgeons at University Medical Center in Tucson operated on the Congresswomen, and doctors were hopeful she would recover, Dr Peter Rhee said during a news conference at the hospital.

Giffords was following commands, which is a good sign, he said.

C J Karamargin, Giffords' communications director said that Giffords remained in critical condition in intensive care and was not fully conscience.

However, he said Gifford's deputy director Ron Barber, who was wounded in the shooting, was "doing very well" and speaking.

"I'm very optimistic about her recovery," Rhee said.

Six people were killed and 13 others were injured in the volley of bullets.

The 40-year-old Arizona Democrat was meeting constituents for the first time since surviving a bruising re-election campaign last fall.

The Democrat had drawn the ire of critics on the hot-button issues of immigration and the health-care reform. In fact, a vandal had shattered a window of her Tucson office in the days after she cast a vote in favour of the president's health care bill.

It was the first time in more than 30 years that a US lawmaker was the victim of an assassination attempt.

Police are holding a 22-year-old man in the shooting rampage, which occurred outside a supermarket where Giffords was greeting constituents.

The gunman shot Giffords in the head at close range and then continued to fire into the small gathering of people.

Law enforcement and medical officials in Arizona said that at least 18 people were shot in the melee and that six of them had died, including John M Roll, the chief US District judge in Arizona, and Gabe Zimmerman, Giffords's local director of community outreach.

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