Sarah Palin is facing intense criticism for including shot US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a ‘hit list’ last year with the message “Don’t Retreat, instead – RELOAD!”

The hit list, which was published on Palin’s website on March 23 last year, included 20 politicians that she wanted conservative voters to help unseat in last year’s mid-term elections.

Published under the title “TARGETED!”, an image of a crosshair gun was printed over each politician’s home patch.

At the time, critics argued that Palin was encouraging violence.

Last March, Giffords was one of several Democrats who were threatened and had their offices vandalised after voting for Obama’s healthcare reform bill.

Democrat Giffords is in a critical condition after she was shot by 22-year-old gunman Jared Lee Loughner who opened fire on a crowd of 30 people at one of the politician’s “congress on the corner” sessions. Six people were killed in the shooting, including a nine-year-old girl. 13 other people were hit.

Palin has offered her condolences to Giffords’ family, although she has not commented on the hitlist.

US president Barack Obama has described the events as an “unspeakable tragedy”.