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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 18:15 GMT
E Timorese rebels deny murder bid
Australian troops on patrol near Dili on 14 February 2008
Australia sent additional troops after the attacks
One of the rebels involved in the twin attacks on the East Timorese president and prime minister has denied attempting to assassinate them.

Gastao Salsinha told the BBC that security personnel for President Jose Ramos-Horta started the fire fight that killed rebel chief Alfredo Reinado.

Speaking from hiding, Mr Salsinha said he had now taken over as rebel leader.

The president was seriously hurt in Monday's attack, but PM Xanana Gusmao escaped practically unscathed.

Mr Ramos-Horta is still being treated for bullet wounds in Darwin, Australia, after Monday's attack at his residence.

Mr Salsinha, who is believed to have played a central role in the attack on Mr Gusmao's convoy, told the BBC: "If our intention was to ambush the PM, he wouldn't have escaped."

Mourners at Alfredo Reinado's funeral on 14 February 2008
There were emotional scenes at the funeral of Alfredo Reinado

In regard to the shooting of Mr Ramos-Horta, he said: "It wasn't Major Alfredo who started the attack, it was the presidential security."

About 1,000 people attended the funeral of Alfredo Reinado, a former military officer, in the capital Dili on Thursday.

A procession of family and followers wove through the streets, applauding and chanting Roman Catholic prayers.

Manhunt

The attacks were widely assumed to have been assassination attempts although there has also been speculation of a botched abduction bid.

A state of emergency remains in place in the country and UN peacekeepers are out in force.

UN troops have been in East Timor since a wave of street violence in mid-2006.

A group of rebel soldiers with grievances dating back to that unrest is thought to have carried out Monday's attacks.

Australian-led international forces are conducting a manhunt for the remaining rebels out in the hills behind Dili.

On Friday, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is to hold talks with Mr Gusmao during a visit to East Timor, which won independence in 2002 after decades under Indonesian rule.



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