The president of East Timor was shot today, in what the prime minister is calling a failed coup attempt. Rebel soldiers shot President José Ramos-Horta at his home before dawn. The Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmão, was targeted in a separate attack but escaped unharmed. The president was airlifted to Australia where he is now in an induced coma. The prime minister has declared a state of emergency and installed a curfew.
Alfredo Reinado, a rebel leader who deserted the military in 2006 and launched a rebellion, was killed in the incident. Triggered by the dismissal of a third of the armed forces, Reinado’s 2006 rebellion came only four years after East Timor's independence from Indonesia. While Reinado's death eliminates an important part of the problem, the coup attempt reveals that East Timor is on the brink of even more chaos. Australia, East Timor's neighbor, said it would send additional troops and police officers immediately.
President Ramos-Horta spent 24 years in exile during the Indonesian occupation and won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to secure an independent East Timor. Doctors believe he will make a full recovery.