East Timor President wounded in attack on his home

Nobel Peace Prize winner wounded in stomach in shooting attack; hospitalized in "stable condition."

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Rebel soldiers attacked the house of East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta early Monday, wounding the Nobel Prize-winning leader in the stomach in a clash that also killed the country's top wanted fugitive, an army spokesman said. Ramos-Horta was in "stable condition" following the shooting and would be flown to neighboring Australia for further treatment if necessary, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao told reporters in the capital Dili. East Timor television reported that the home of Gusmao also came under fire, but that no one was hurt. The unsourced report raised the possibility that the rebel soldiers may have been staging a coup attempt. Gusmao urged the volatile, recently independent country to stay calm. "I also appeal to the people not to spread any false rumors and information," he said, refusing to answer questions on the events of the day. The attack on Ramos-Horta plunges the country into fresh uncertainty after a flare-up in violence in 2006 killed 37 people, displaced more than 150,000 others and led to the collapse of the government. Two cars carrying rebels soldiers passed Ramos-Horta's house on the outskirts of the capital, Dili, at around 7 a.m. local time and began shooting, da Camara said. The guards returned fire, he said. Ramos-Horta was being operated on at an Australian army hospital in the capital Dili with a stomach wound, presidential adviser Agusto Zunior told The Associated Press. The extent of his injuries was not immediately clear. Alfredo Reinado was due to go on trial in absentia for his alleged role in several deadly shootings between police and military units during the violence in 2006. He had evaded captured since then and refused repeated pleas by the government to surrender. Australian-led troops restored calm following the 2006 turmoil and peaceful elections were held in which Ramos-Horta was elected president. Low-level violence had continued in the country of 1 million people since then. Deposed Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has maintained Ramos-Horta's government was illegitimate. His political party immediately condemned Monday's attack in a statement released to the media. East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, gained independence in 2002 after voting to break free from more than two decades of brutal Indonesian occupation in a UN-sponsored ballot. Ramos-Horta and Gusmao, who led the armed struggle against the occupation, have vowed to tackle rampant poverty and restore damaged relations between the country's police and army. Ramos-Horta shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with countryman Bishop Carlos Belo for leading a nonviolent struggle against the occupation.