East Timor president "begins to recover" after assassination attempt

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta was slowly being returned to consciousness by doctors who have kept him sedated since he was shot in an assassination attempt last week, a spokesman said Thursday. Ramos-Horta has undergone surgery five times since the Feb. 11 shooting in Dili, the East Timorese capital, and has been heavily sedated at a hospital in northern Australia to help him stay still and avoid pain. Doctors are pleased with the progress of his recovery, and were allowing him to regain consciousness, said Luke Gosling, a Ramos-Horta aide who is with him in Darwin. "He is slowly waking up," said Gosling. "He has started saying a few words to close family." Suspected rebels shot Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, near his home on Feb. 11. An hour later, gunmen attacked Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unhurt.