PHOENIX (Reuters) - Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returned on Friday to Tucson, Arizona, for a holiday weekend break from her physical therapy program, making her second visit to her hometown since she was shot there in January, her office said.

Giffords, who has been living in Houston in recent months, will visit with family and friends over the Labor Day weekend, but she plans no public appearances.

"This weekend will be a welcome respite from her rigorous schedule of therapy," Pia Carusone, chief of staff for Giffords, said in a statement.

Giffords was shot in the head at close range on January 8 by a gunman who opened fire at her and a crowd of people during a political gathering at a supermarket in Tucson.

Twelve other victims were wounded and six were killed.

Jared Loughner, 22, a college dropout charged with the shooting, has been held at a Bureau of Prisons psychiatric hospital in Missouri since he was declared mentally incompetent to stand trial in May.

Giffords last made a weekend visit to Tucson in June.

A representative from Giffords' office told media outlets earlier this week that the Democratic congresswoman can now walk without a cane.

(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Peter Bohan)