Key soldier wanted in ETimor attacks surrenders

Key soldier wanted in ETimor attacks surrenders

also Man who allegedly shot East Timor’s president in custody,

Senior East Timor rebel soldier surrenders

02 Mar 2008 03:04:04 GMT

Source: Reuters

DILI, March 2 (Reuters) – A senior East Timorese rebel soldier accused of being involved in attacks on the tiny country’s president and prime minister last month surrendered on Sunday, a military official said.

Rebel soldiers attacked the home of President Jose Ramos-Horta on Feb. 11, seriously wounding him during a gunfight. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unhurt in a separate attack the same morning, ordered the country’s military and police forces to form a joint command to arrest followers of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was killed in the attacks. Amaro da Costa, also known as Susar, surrendered to the joint command in Turiscai, 120 km (75 miles) south of the capital Dili, Filomeno Paixao, head of the joint command, told a news conference on Sunday.

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

“We have also had direct and indirect contact with rebel leader Gastao Salsinha,” said Paixao, adding that he hoped the rebel leader would also surrender soon.

Prime Minister Gusmao urged Da Costa and other rebels to cooperate.

“I am asking you to cooperate with the joint command so that people can live in tranquility”, Gusmao said at the government palace.

Asia’s youngest nation, under a state of emergency since the attacks, 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.

The U.N. Security Council last week extended for another year the mandate for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in East Timor, saying the security and humanitarian situation in the country remained fragile. (Reporting by Tito Belo, Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Jan Dahinten)

updated 1:00 a.m. EST, Sun March 2, 2008

Man who allegedly shot East Timor’s president in custody

DILI, East Timor (AP) — The man who allegedly shot and critically wounded East Timor’s president last month was in custody Sunday after surrendering to police, military officials said.

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta is recovering from multiple rounds of surgery in Australia. []

Amaro da Costa turned himself in without a fight late Saturday, handing over two automatic weapons and some ammunition, Lt. Col. Filomeno Paixao told reporters in the capital, Dili.

Da Costa, an ex-policeman, allegedly shot President Jose Ramos-Horta outside his home on February 11, two military sources told The Associated Press, citing several witness accounts.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because a police investigation is ongoing.

Ramos-Horta is recovering from multiple rounds of surgery in an Australian hospital, while Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped unharmed from an ambush on his motorcade the same day.

Key soldier wanted in ETimor attacks surrenders

Sat Mar 1, 11:09 PM ET

DILI (AFP) – A key renegade soldier sought in connection with last month’s attacks on the leadership of East Timor has surrendered, the head of the country’s joint military and police operation said here Sunday.

Amaro da Silva Susar, the second most wanted person in the February 11 attacks that left President Jose Ramos-Horta seriously wounded, turned himself in Saturday night, a spokesman for the joint effort, Filomeno Paixa de Jesus, told a press conference.

Susar, who surrendered in the Aileu district, just southeast of the capital Dili, said he participated in the assault on Ramos-Horta at the president’s private residence.

“Yes I was involved. I stood at the gate,” Susar told the press conference, adding however, that he was not the person who shot the president.

“I surrendered because I want my country to progress in the future, so its people can live in calm,” he said.

Authorities have issued at least 17 arrest warrants for renegade soldiers accused of taking part in the attacks, which included an ambush on Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao who survived uninjured.

Topping their most wanted list is Gustao Salsinha, the right hand man of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead during the attack on Ramos-Horta.

Australian-led international peacekeepers along with UN forces have been assisting the search.

Ramos-Horta, the Nobel peace laureate, is recovering in a hospital in northern Australia. Hospital officials say he has responded well to five operations to repair damage caused by bullet wounds to the back and chest.

International forces were originally dispatched to East Timor at the government’s request after unrest in 2006 flared among military and police factions, causing bloody street violence that left 37 people dead.

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