East Timor president conscious
Jose Ramos-Horta making "steady recovery" after surviving assassination attempt.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2008 06:34 GMT
A spokesman said Ramos-Horta had
spoken briefly to his family [AFP]

The president of East Timor has regained consciousness after he was critically wounded in an attack by suspected rebels 10 days ago near his home outside the capital, Dili.


Jose Ramos-Horta recovered from an induced coma and spoke to family members in an Australian hospital on Thursday, medical officials said.

Doctors at the Royal Darwin hospital said Ramos-Horta "continued his steady recovery today and is slowly waking up", according to Luke Gosling, the president's spokesman.
"The president has said a few words to [his] family and is resting," Gosling added.

The Nobel Peace laureate is recovering from bullet wounds to his body.


Rebel leader Alfredo Reinado died in the attack on February 11.


FBI help 


News of the president's slow recovery came as an FBI team joined the investigation into the attacks, including a bid on the life of Xanana Gusmao, the prime minister.


The military said it will continue to
monitor the situation [EPA]
About an hour after the attack on Ramos-Horta, suspected rebels fired at the convoy Gusmao was in but he escaped unhurt.


Three FBI agents arrived in Dili on Wednesday to assist international police officers already investigating the attacks.


"We are very committed to trying to assist the prosecutor-general uncover all the facts of the case," Hans George Klemm, the US ambassador, said.


Following the attacks, a state of emergency was imposed until February 23.


Manhunt called off


On Wednesday, the country's military called off a manhunt for suspected rebels accused of trying to kill the two leaders.


Australian-led international peacekeepers along with UN police, national police and the military had been searching for more than a dozen renegade soldiers suspected of carrying out the attacks.


Taur Matan Ruak, the national army chief, said they will stop searching the hills outside Dili but will continue to monitor the situation.


"We have already cancelled our operations," he said, but added that "cancelling does not mean that there will not be any operation again".


The withdrawal highlights fraught relations between the military and the international forces stationed in the country.


Senior officials, including Matan Ruak, have demanded an explanation on how the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force and some 1,700 UN police failed to prevent the attackers from reaching their two targets.

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