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E Timor president wounded in attack
Jose Ramos-Horta reported stable in hospital after attack on home in capital, Dili.
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2008 06:17 GMT

Ramos-Horta, a Nobel peace laureate, was elected president in May last year [EPA]

East Timor's president is reported to be in a stable condition after he was wounded in a pre-dawn attack in the capital, Dili, thought to have been carried out by rebel soldiers.

Officials said Jose Ramos-Horta underwent surgery at an Australian military hospital in Dili after the attack on his home on Monday morning, but his wounds were not thought to be life-threatening.

Sources close to the president said he had a "small injury to his abdomen" and he is expected to be flown to a hospital in Darwin, Australia, for further treatment.

 

Unconfirmed reports say one of the attackers, rebel soldier Alfredo Reinado, was killed as presidential guards returned fire.

 

Authorities have yet to confirm who led the pre-dawn attack.

 

East Timor timeline


1975 - Former colonial power Portugal withdraws, Indonesia invades; two decades of resistance follow during which 200,000 Timorese are thought to have been killed

1991 - Indonesian troops fire on mourners at Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery, killing more than 100

1993 - Captured resistance leader Xanana Gusmao is jailed

1996 - Bishop Carlos Belo and resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta share Nobel Peace Prize

1998 - Indonesia's president Suharto resigns; successor, BJ Habibie, suggests East Timor should be allowed to vote on its future

1999 - Massive turnout votes in favour of independence from Indonesia, triggering wave of violence from pro-Indonesian militia

2002 - East Timor declared independent with Gusmao as president

2006 - Clashes break out after 600 troops sacked from country's armed forces; Ramos-Horta appointed PM after predecessor, Mari Alkatiri, resigns

2007 - Ramos-Horta wins presidential election; Gusmao later appointed PM, prompting more gang violence

One of the president's guards was also killed in the exchange of fire.

 

Meanwhile Xanana Gusmao, the country's prime minister, says he too escaped an ambush shortly after the attack on the president's home.

 

Speaking at a press briefing Gusmao said gunmen attacked his motorcade on Monday but no one was injured.

 

He said the attacks were part of a failed coup attempt.

 

Gusmao said the situation in the country "is proceeding normally and is under control" despite the attacks on the country's leaders.

 

"Even though the state has been attacked by an armed group and the president was wounded, the state is in control of stability," he added.

 

Following news of the attacks, the Australian government advised its citizens against travel to East Timor warning that the country could be thrown into instability with a risk of violence "anywhere at any time".

 

Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, said he had agreed to a request from the East Timorese government for more Australian troops and police to be deployed to the country in order to maintain security in the wake of Monday's attacks.

 

"The request from East Timor is for a substantial and significant enhancement" of the some 800 Australian troops already in the troubled country on peacekeeping duties, Rudd told a news conference.

 

"For there to be a coordinated attempt to assassinate the democratically elected leadership of a close neighbour and friend of Australia is a deeply disturbing development," he said.

 

Mutiny

 

Reinado was jailed for leading a mutiny 
in the army in 2006 [EPA]

Reinado, thought to have been behind Monday's attack, was wanted on murder charges over a flare up of violence in April and May 2006 that left 37 people dead.

 

The violence was caused by a split in the military that led to some 600 soldiers - about one-third of the defence force - being sacked.

 

Reinado was later jailed for leading a mutiny, but escaped from prison in September 2006 along with 50 others and has been on the run ever since.

 

In November last year Reinado threatened to use force against the government if it failed to concede to his demands.

 

East Timor was a Portuguese colony until 1975 and was then invaded by Indonesia, whose brutal rule over the territory led to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people.

 

In 1999 a referendum was held on independence, triggering a wave of violence by pro-Indonesian militia.

 

An Australian-led peacekeeping force restored order and the country declared independence in 2002, but it has continued to be plagued by violence and gang fighting.

Source:
Agencies
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