East Timor points to security lapse

Updated on Feb 12, 2008 11:28 PM IST
East Timor’s military chief demands an explanation as to how renegade soldiers were able to reach the homes of the nation’s two top leaders to launch their assassination attempts.
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AFP | By, Dili

East Timor’s military chief demanded an explanation Tuesday as to how renegade soldiers were able to reach the homes of the nation’s two top leaders to launch their assassination attempts.

Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak said that the military was only responsible for security within the perimeters of President Jose Ramos-Horta’s residence, while national police and UN police had jurisdiction for his personal security.

Ramos-Horta sustained triple gunshot wounds during a firefight at his home in the seaside capital of Dili on Monday and was rushed to the Australian city of Darwin for medical treatment.

He was in a serious but stable condition Tuesday.

“Given the big number of international forces present in Timor-Leste, in particular in Dili, how is it possible that vehicles transporting armed people have entered the city and executed an approach to the residences of the president and prime minister without having been detected?” Ruak said in a statement.

“There has been a lack of capacity shown by the international forces who have the primary responsibility for security within Timor-Leste, to foresee, react and prevent these events,” he said.

“Even though it may have been possible and highly recommended, there was no immediate operation undertaken to arrest the personnel responsible for the attacks.”

Ruak called for a “complete international investigation” into the events.

Rebels shot Ramos-Horta reportedly as he returned to his home after a morning walk, while Gusmao was shot at as he travelled in a motorcade from his home about an hour later, but he escaped injury.

Additional Australian troops and police to augment about 800 already on the ground began arriving in East Timor on Tuesday. There are approximately 1,700 UN police on patrol in the young nation.

The global forces were despatched at the government’s request after unrest in 2006 flared among military and police factions.

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