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Page last updated at 10:55 GMT, Friday, 22 February 2008

East Timor extends emergency rule

Soldiers outside government offices in Dili
Security forces in Dili are out in force, in the hunt for the rebels

East Timor's parliament has extended a state of emergency imposed after attacks on the nation's top leaders.

The emergency rule, which will be in place for another 30 days, includes a ban on rallies and a night-time curfew.

Since the attacks, which left President Jose Ramos-Horta critically wounded, security personnel have been hunting for the rebels behind the shootings.

More than 1,000 police and soldiers paraded through the city's streets on Friday in an apparent show of strength.

Hunting the rebels

In the aftermath of the 11 February attacks, the country declared a state of emergency which was due to end on Saturday.

Lawmakers have now voted by 34 to 12 to extend it by another 30 days, with the government issuing a statement saying that "criminal groups still walk free and are a serious threat to the organs of the state and to the people".

President Jose Ramos-Horta (file image from September 2007)
Mr Ramos-Horta has undergone several rounds of surgery

Army and police officers are scouring the hills around Dili in their search for the rebels, who are renegade soldiers with grievances dating back to the violence that paralysed East Timor in May 2006.

"Wherever they are hiding, in rat holes or under stones, we will chase them," army commander Brig Gen Matan Ruak told reporters.

"Our operations will also be against their supporters and those who provide them with food and credits for their cell phones."

So far the security services have issued arrest warrants for 17 people, including Gastao Salsinha, who replaced Alfredo Reinado as the rebels' leader after he was killed during the attacks.

Meanwhile Mr Ramos-Horta is continuing to recover from the injuries he sustained.

He has undergone a series of operations at an Australian hospital, for bullet wounds to the back and chest, and on Thursday he regained consciousness from a drug-induced coma.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao was also attacked by the rebels on same day as the president, but he was not hurt.





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