Subject: BBC: E Timorese rebels deny murder bid

also Timorese shock at leader's shooting

Thursday, 14 February 2008, 18:15 GMT


E Timorese rebels deny murder bid

One of the rebels involved in the twin attacks on the East Timorese president and prime minister has denied attempting to assassinate them.

Gastao Salsinha told the BBC that security personnel for President Jose Ramos-Horta started the fire fight that killed rebel chief Alfredo Reinado.

Speaking from hiding, Mr Salsinha said he had now taken over as rebel leader.

The president was seriously hurt in Monday's attack, but PM Xanana Gusmao escaped practically unscathed.

Mr Ramos-Horta is still being treated for bullet wounds in Darwin, Australia, after Monday's attack at his residence.

Mr Salsinha, who is believed to have played a central role in the attack on Mr Gusmao's convoy, told the BBC: "If our intention was to ambush the PM, he wouldn't have escaped."

In regard to the shooting of Mr Ramos-Horta, he said: "It wasn't Major Alfredo who started the attack, it was the presidential security."

About 1,000 people attended the funeral of Alfredo Reinado, a former military officer, in the capital Dili on Thursday.

A procession of family and followers wove through the streets, applauding and chanting Roman Catholic prayers.


The attacks were widely assumed to have been assassination attempts although there has also been speculation of a botched abduction bid.

A state of emergency remains in place in the country and UN peacekeepers are out in force.

UN troops have been in East Timor since a wave of street violence in mid-2006.

A group of rebel soldiers with grievances dating back to that unrest is thought to have carried out Monday's attacks.

Australian-led international forces are conducting a manhunt for the remaining rebels out in the hills behind Dili.

On Friday, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is to hold talks with Mr Gusmao during a visit to East Timor, which won independence in 2002 after decades under Indonesian rule.


Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 11:59 GMT []

Timorese shock at leader's shooting

East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta is in a critical condition after after being shot by rebel soldiers.

Here people in the capital Dili express their shock and bewliderment at the assassination attempt.


I feel very sad. This is a terrible situation. Ramos-Horta is a great man and a charismatic leader.

But I also feel sad at the killing of Alfredo Reinado, a great sadness that the situation had to come to this. I do not believe he needed to have been shot dead. I wish they could have resolved their differences at the negotiating table.

I suppose the swiftness with which they reacted is a message to the groups of people who are planning and conspiring against the government. After all we in East Timor have seen a lot of violence over the last two years and there are still many who say they will come to do violence against the government.

There is no leader in East Timor who can replace Ramos-Horta. He built up his reputation over many years. He dealt with so many things, was very experienced. We trust him a great deal and he has been a guiding hand through independence.

I am worried about instability in East Timor but I'm hoping for the best. I'm hoping that the rogue elements in our society will try to achieve their ends through negotiations and not violence.


Everyone is feeling astounded and bewildered with what has happened here. It's unbelievable that something like that could happen here in Dili and so suddenly.

It caught everyone by surprise. A state of emergency has been declared by the prime minister.

Dili is calm at the moment. We had our prime minister making a plea to the people not to incite violence or create rumours unnecessarily. We were told to remain indoors and to talk to one another.

The police have been given enhanced powers to search people. I believe that some members of the group are still at large in Dili.

We were here during the last crisis and things descended to chaos very quickly. That happened without an international presence. I think international peacekeepers are doing a good job of keeping violence at bay. Having them here gives a lot of confidence to the community. I feel it is very hard for anyone to create violence en masse.

Ramos-Horta is a leader who is truly internationally recognised. He had everybody's respect. We need more people like that here.

I think things were getting back on track after he came into power. A lot of investment started to come back to East Timor. There was an air of confidence.


Life is carrying on as usual. Things are still running well. We heard about the assassination attempt early this morning when people ran all around Dili town to convey the message. Some schools closed, many workers didn't turn up to their jobs.

I heard that many university students also left their lessons because they were so worried.

Everybody remembers the violence we experienced two years ago.

I am not upset and worried. I did not vote for Ramos-Horta but I support him because most people wanted him to be the president. I would not say that he has done a good job but I would not say he has done a bad job either. I do believe that he can be replaced. We have people in waiting. Every president has a deputy.

At the moment I am looking to Dili and I am wondering if there will be violence. I do not think so. The situation is under control. There is a heavy police presence.


After what happened this morning, I do not think the situation in Dili is very calm. Many people are staying at home. Public and private transportation is scarce. People are afraid to do their normal jobs and even some public servants haven't turned up to work. I know that some schools also didn't open today. Nobody knows what will happen next

Many people are afraid and confused about what will happen.

I too feel confused. I have never had to encounter this kind of situation before. He is the head of state and I cannot believe he was attacked like this.

He is the man who tried so many times to effect reconciliation between Timorese in this country. How could this happen to him as the head of state and as a Timorese?

There are so many factors uniting us. Ninety five per cent of people in this country are Catholic. Yet we still fight each other and there is still a great deal of hatred.

People are not aware of the meaning of this independence we fought so hard for. We should have been working together to develop this country rather than create violence. Outsiders may think that we fought for independence only to fight amongst ourselves afterwards.

Ramos-Horta is a very good leader, very charismatic. During the crisis last year I met him and I saw how he walked around Dili's most difficult districts talking to people affected by the problems.

He is a very good man. He wants to hold everyone together. He wants every group in this country united.

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