13 Jan 2011

Obama pays tribute to shooting victims

4:32 pm on 13 January 2011

United States president Barack Obama has paid tribute at a memorial service in Arizona to the six people killed and 13 injured in a shooting in Tucson.

Mr Obama told the thousands of people gathered at the University of Arizona's basketball arena on Wednesday that he could not "fill the hole" torn in US hearts, but urged the nation to honour the victims through unity.

As soon as he arrived in Tuscon, Mr Obama visited congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was injured by a shot to the head in the attack outside a grocery store where she was holding a constituent event, the BBC reports.

Mr Obama spent 10 minutes with Ms Giffords, a Democrat who remains in critical condition and her husband, Mark Kelly, before meeting four others injured in the shooting, including two of Ms Giffords' staff members.

The president told the memorial that Ms Giffords opened her eyes for the first time since being shot.

Suspected gunman Jared Loughner has been charged with several offences and could face the death penalty if guilty.