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Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 11:19 UK

E Timor rebel leader surrenders

Jose Ramos-Horta (L, back in white shirt) looks on as rebel leader Gastao Salsinha (R) hands in his weapons, 29 April
Gastao Salsinha handed in his weapons at a formal ceremony

The leader of a group of rebels accused of trying to assassinate East Timor's president has surrendered.

Gastao Salsinha and 11 other rebels handed themselves in to Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres at the government palace in the capital, Dili.

Mr Guterres described the surrender as a "historic moment" for East Timor.

President Jose Ramos-Horta was seriously hurt in the February attack, which triggered fears for the stability of the newly-independent nation.

He underwent weeks of treatment for bullet wounds in an Australian hospital and only returned to East Timor earlier this month.

'Harmony and stability'

Gastao Salsinha took over the leadership of the rebels from Alfredo Reinado, who was shot dead in the attack on Mr Ramos-Horta.

Rebels handing in their weapons, 29 April

His decision to surrender followed days of negotiations with officials in a house in the west of the country.

Mr Gutteres confirmed that the rebels had turned in their guns.

"So officially the rebellion is over, and now what we have to do is bring all of them to justice," he said.

"It's a historic moment for the country, and a historic moment for the people of East Timor.

"We believe that from now on the Timorese development will start and people will have a better future, as well as living in peace, harmony and stability."

Mr Ramos-Horta witnessed the surrender, as did United Nations mission chief Atul Khare.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unhurt from an attack on the same day the president was shot, is in Indonesia on an official visit.

The rebels - former soldiers - had been on the run since violent protests in 2006 that left more than 30 people dead.

The protests were triggered by then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's decision to sack 600 striking members of the army.




SEE ALSO
Surrender ends troops' rebellion
29 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific


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