Timor president accuses UN troops

Jose Ramos-Horta says troops squandered opportunity to catch gunmen who shot him.

    Ramos-Horta said UN forces failed to seal off
    Dili after the shooting [Reuters]

    He said help was slow to arrive as he bled in the street outside his compound.

     

    In an interview with ABC television, he also recalled looking at his attacker before being shot.

     

    "I looked at his eyes - not friendly - and he was determined to fire, that's why I turned and ran and I was hit," he said.

     

    Ambulance

     

    In the minutes after the shooting last month Ramos-Horta said help was slow to arrive as he bled in the street outside his compound.

     

    He also said he had been told United Nations police obstructed people trying to rescue him.

     

    "I was shouting for an ambulance," he said. "My security people in the meantime had arrived, and it took so long for an ambulance to arrive."

     

    Ramos-Horta was critically wounded in
    the assassination attempt [Reuters]

    When an ambulance finally did arrive there was no paramedic, and a Portuguese medic jumped on board.

     

    Ramos-Horta said he blamed UN forces for the fact that many of the gunmen involved in the attack remain at large.

     

    Soldiers "could have promptly surrounded the entire town, closing all the exits, using helicopters, sending immediately elements to my house to get the information on the ground – they would have captured them within hours," he told ABC.

     

    The United Nations in East Timor has not commented on Ramos-Horta's claims.

     

    However Australia's defence minister said that given the president's injuries, he could not objectively judge whether the UN response was timely.

     

    "He did make a suggestion that we could have moved faster to cordon off the city and to rein in the rebels. But you've got to have a close look at the timing of it all, and of course the president was in no position really at the time to properly judge the timing," Joel Fitzgibbon told ABC radio on Friday.

     

    He added that Ramos-Horta was "complimentary in every way" about Australian troops, who donated their own blood for the president's emergency transfusion at a military hospital in Dili.

     

    Ramos-Horta was discharged from a Darwin hospital last week after multiple operations and say he plans to return to work in Dili next month.

     

    The attack on Ramos-Horta was led by renegade troop leader Alfredo Reinado, who was shot and killed by presidential guards during the raid.

     

    Reinado headed a band of several hundred ex-soldiers who were fired from East Timor's military in 2006 after going on strike in protest at alleged discrimination.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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