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Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 16:38 UK

Indonesia arrests E Timor rebels

Jose Ramos-Horta in Dili, 17/04/08
Thousands gathered in Dili's streets to greet Mr Ramos-Horta on Thursday

Indonesia has said it has arrested three men suspected of involvement in the shooting of East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta, in February.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the suspects were all former Timorese soldiers who had crossed the border between the two countries illegally.

Mr Yudhoyono said the states had worked together to find the men, but expressed surprise that it had been made public.

Mr Ramos-Horta flew home on Thursday after receiving treatment in Australia.

Thousands of supporters greeted him in the capital, Dili.

Despite the attack, Mr Ramos-Horta said he was determined not to change his style and would continue to mix with ordinary people.

'Indonesian elements'

Speaking to reporters in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, Mr Yudhoyono said police had arrested and detained three former members of the Timorese military on Friday morning "on arrest warrants issued by East Timor's government".

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (archive)
I was a bit surprised to hear President Ramos-Horta's statement yesterday, because it is my understanding that the telephone conversation on 10 April was not public knowledge
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Indonesian President

"For the time being, I cannot give more details. Indonesian police will give details after they have completed the operation and investigation," he said.

Mr Yudhoyono said the men were being questioned by police while his country waited for an extradition request from Dili.

He added that East Timor had specifically asked for help in arresting the men, and that he himself had spoken to his Timorese counterpart about the operation.

But he expressed surprise that Mr Ramos-Horta had made the co-operation public when police had been told to keep it secret.

"I was a bit surprised to hear President Ramos-Horta's statement yesterday, because it is my understanding that the telephone conversation on 10 April was not public knowledge yet," he said.

"I had instructed my ministers and police chiefs not to disclose that information to the public in order to give an opportunity to the Indonesian police to find these suspects," he added.

Mr Ramos-Horta told journalists on Thursday that "Indonesian elements" were thought to be involved in his shooting.

But Mr Yudhoyono said that those elements were not only in Indonesia but in Australia and other countries.

And he said any statement which led people to think the Indonesian state itself was involved would disrupt bilateral relations. Mr Ramos-Horta has so far been careful to not to insinuate that.

Two rebel soldiers were shot dead during the assassination attempt in February. The rebels have been on the run since 2006 - when the sacking of 600 soldiers sparked huge unrest.

Dozens of people were killed and 150,000 displaced as factional violence and looting engulfed the country. Some 2,500 foreign troops were called in to restore order.



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