Subject: East Timor extends Emergency rule

Also East Timor sends more forces to hunt rebels

East Timor extends Emergency rule

DILI (East Timor) (AP): East Timor's Parliament on Friday extended by 30 days a state of emergency imposed after attacks by suspected rebels on the country's two top leaders.

The state of emergency, which bans rallies and imposes a nighttime curfew, was due to end Saturday.

After a request by the acting president, lawmakers voted 34-12 to extend it by 30 days.

``Criminal groups still walk free and are a serious threat to the organs of the state and to the people as a whole,'' the government said in statement after requesting the extension.

Also Friday, more than 1,000 police and soldiers paraded in the capital, Dili, in an apparent show of force following the Feb. 11 attacks that critically wounded President Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

A group of dismissed soldiers is suspected in the strikes.

``Wherever they are hiding, in rat holes or under stones, we will chase them,'' East Timor army commander Brig. Gen. Matan Ruak said. ``Our operations will also be against their supporters.''

Assailants shot at Ramos-Horta close to his home. His guards opened fire, fatally shooting a wanted rebel leader. An hour later, attackers fired on a motorcade carrying Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. He escaped unhurt.

Ramos-Horta is recovering from bullet wounds to his upper body at a hospital in nearby Australia.

A day after the attack, the country declared a state of emergency.

The attacks were apparently a sudden escalation in a bitter dispute between the government and several hundred ex-soldiers who were fired in 2006 after going on strike to protest alleged discrimination.

The country has been calm since the attacks on the leaders, despite fears of more unrest.

East Timor, formerly occupied by Indonesia, has struggled with political turmoil and violence since it gained independence in 2002. Most of its 1 million people live in poverty.

About 1,000 Australian police and soldiers and a separate U.N. police force are stationed in the country.


East Timor sends more forces to hunt rebels


Published: February 22, 2008

DILI: East Timor sent over 1,000 police and soldiers to sweep hills and raid homes on Friday in pursuit of rebels involved in last week's assassination attempts on the country's president and prime minister.

Rebel soldiers raided Jose Ramos-Horta's home last Monday, seriously wounding the president during a gunfight.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unhurt in a separate attack, ordered the country's military and police forces to form a joint command to arrest followers of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado.

Over 1,000 police officers and army soldiers paraded the streets of the capital, Dili, on Friday before embarking on the hunt for rebel soldiers in nearby hills.

"We promise we won't betray the confidence given to us. We promise we will restore peace and stability," military chief Taur Matan Ruak told a news conference.

Arrest warrants have been issued against 17 people suspected of involvement in the attack, including Gastao Salsinha who took command of rebel soldiers after Reinado was killed during the attack on Ramos-Horta.

Asia's youngest nation has been unable to achieve stability since hard-won independence in 2002. The army tore apart along regional lines in 2006, when about 600 soldiers were sacked, triggering factional violence that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from their homes.

Foreign troops were sent to restore order in the former Portuguese colony of about one million people, which gained full independence from Indonesia after a U.N.-sponsored vote in 1999 that was marred by violence.

(Reporting by Tito Belo, Writing by Adhityani Arga, Editing by Sugita Katyal and Sanjeev Miglani)


ABC News

East Timor in renewed hunt for would-be assassins

By Stephanie March in Dili

Posted 3 hours 42 minutes ago

East Timor's police and military have started a new operation to search for the rebels involved in last week's attacks on the Prime Minister and President.

Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta was shot twice in a failed assassination attempt 11 days ago.

Rebel leader Alfredo Reinado was killed in the assassination attempt.

More than 1,000 police and soldiers have taken part in a military parade through the streets of Dili in a show of strength against the rebels.

The troops are raiding homes and sweeping through the hills outside Dili to search for 17 people suspected of involvement in the attacks.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao says East Timor cannot afford to sit and wait for the rebels to come out of hiding.

"We are starting to go after the rebels. We will go after them and destroy them - destroy them so the people have stability, destroy them so that we can develop our country," he said.

"They can keep hiding if they want, but their time is over. The people need to live in peace."

East Timor's military commander Taur Matan Ruak said he will have no sympathy for anyone caught hiding the rebels involved in the attack.

The merger of police and the military sparked concern among East Timor analysts, who feared the move could reignite tensions between the police and military that flamed during the crisis in 2006.

East Timor's leaders are meeting today to decide whether or not to extend the state of emergency, which is due to expire tomorrow.

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