12 Jan 2011

Wounded Congresswoman still critically ill

1:48 pm on 12 January 2011

Doctors treating US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords say she is now less sedated than before and is breathing on her own. But she remains critically ill.

Ms Giffords, 40, was shot in the head in Tucson, Arizona, on Saturday afternoon, in an attack in which six people were killed.

Doctors say Ms Giffords is holdering her own and is still responding to simple commands - a key sign for her recovery prospects.

She's breathing on her own, said Dr Michael Lemole, the neurosurgeon who operated on her. In fact, she's able to generate her own breaths.

However, Dr Lemole said doctors were keeping Ms Giffords on a ventilator.

Five other people are being treated at the hospital for gunshot wounds. Three are in a serious condition and two in fair condition.

A man accused of murder and attempting to assassinate Ms Gifford, Jared Loughner, 22, appeared in court in the state capital, Phoenix, on Monday on five charges including murder and attempted murder.