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East Timor's Ramos-Horta wounded

  • Story Highlights
  • Analyst: Rebel leader Reinado may have led attack after hearing of plan against him
  • Ramos-Horta "not in a life-threatening situation," deputy PM says
  • PM Gusmao escapes separate attack
  • Ramos-Horta shared 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with countryman Bishop Carlos Belo
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(CNN) -- East Timor President and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta was shot twice, while Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped unhurt Monday in coordinated attacks blamed on rebel troops, officials said.

Ramos-Horta was shot twice in the back, and one of the bullets tore through his abdomen, Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa said. But the wounds were not life-threatening, he added.

"The doctors are trying to locate where the bullet is," da Costa said.

Gusmao was convening an emergency meeting of the island's government in Dili, Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Gutteres told CNN.

"The prime minister is in control of the situation," da Costa said, adding that the overall situation in the country was "stable" and calm.

"We already are used to this idea of having some renegades outside," he said. "But I think the country is safe. We have the support of the Australian and New Zealand military here ... and I believe our own defenses are capable of handling those problems."

Ramos-Horta was in surgery at an Australian military hospital in Dili and was to be flown to a military hospital in Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory.

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Killed in the attack were a bodyguard for the president and two attackers, da Costa said.

One of them was rebel leader Maj. Alfredo Reinado, said Gutteres. Video Watch as he describes what's known about the attacks »

Reinado, the Australian-trained former head of East Timor's military police joined the revolt and became its leader. He was later captured but broke out of prison and returned to lead disaffected troops, said Damien Kingsbury, an analyst at Australia's Deakin University.

Two small parties in Gusmao's government had supported the rebels, and the government had been trying to coax Reinado to give up peacefully, Kingsbury said.

But a secondary plan had been developed to move against him by force if necessary, Kingsbury added, saying, "It's quite possible that he got wind of this plan and decided to act accordingly."

In a message to its citizens in the country, the U.S. State Department said the attack on the president occurred at 7:30 a.m. The State Department said there were "unconfirmed reports of unrest" in the Lahane zone of Dili and Taibesse but no other reports of unrest in Dili.

The U.S. State Department urged Americans "to use extreme caution and limit movements to the greatest extent possible."

Ramos-Horta shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo in 1996 for their work toward a peaceful solution to the conflict in their country.

Under the rule of the late Suharto, Indonesia occupied East Timor for a quarter century, during which more than 100,000 people were killed, according to human rights groups.


East Timor gained independence in 2002.

In March 2006 a strike by about 600 East Timorese soldiers against alleged discrimination in the military led to their dismissal. The soldiers set up armed camps in the countryside, prompting the dispatch of additional peacekeepers from Australia, Malaysia, Portugal and New Zealand. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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