Gunfight at the President’s Corral

A friend who lives near the President’s home (about 5 kms east of the centre of Dili) called me at about 7am this morning to tell me that there was gunfire which had been going on for about 15 minutes. It appears the gunfight started at around 6:30am but perhaps the confrontation actually started earlier. Within 1/2 an hour, the security warnings apparatus came into play and it has been like that ever since.

I rang another friend who usually goes for the ritual Jesus walk each morning and yes, the President was out on his regular morning walk as well. He walks regularly with his small security team. Reports from here (and cross-referenced with what ABC radio has reported) have differed slightly but it would appear that some sort of gunfight actually started while the President was on his walk. My friend said the President got on his phone when the gunfire started and continued walking home – probably something like 1/2 to 1 kms. A 2nd flurry of gunfire occured a few minutes later. To put this into personal perspective, I did the Jesus walk last Thursday morning at 6:30am and passed the President on his.

Later reports suggest that the President was in “convoy” but I presume this to mean this was his “on-foot” group as they were walking up the hill to his home.

The line on the map below is 2kms long. It shows the President’s house, the Cristo Rei statue and the road up the hill to his house.

TL President shooting general location map

It now seems certain that he was shot and that he was taken to the Australian military hospital which is located at the heliport. Note that the heliport is NOT the airport which is some 5 kms on the western side of town. The heliport is also just west of town and NOT near to the President’s house but some 6kms across the other side of town.

I have heard ambulances but have no info on the ABC reports of up to 20 wounded or if Major Alfredo was amongst them or indeed killed, as reported.

Basically, this has put a lot of expats on hold until accurate information comes through and more importantly from a personal security point of view, what the reaction will be from the Timorese themselves. The average Joao in the street is keeping off the streets becasue they don’t really know what will happen next.

8 thoughts on “Gunfight at the President’s Corral

  1. It looks like I have to cancel a few around town movements this morning. I am affixed to Radio Australia who I note are mostly reporting from OZ. The Radio OZ reporter here seems to be confused about localities but is picking up a bit better now. Except for the bit about OZ/NZ soldiers being on the street “which is unusual”. This is cobblers. It is quite a common sight but I expect there to be a few more on the streets now.

    For the record, the President goes on his morning walk with his Timorese security people. I think his house may have UN police in attendance but there is no OZ/NZ military day-to-day static presence. The OZ/NZ soldiers do not do “static security” except on their own barracks/bases etc.

    To put some background to this, a group of petitioners did come into Dili with government approval last week. Explosions were reported on Wednesday evening near where the petitioners had set up camp (I heard this but it was distant and it could have been anything) and on Thursday at the OZ military HQ. Not too much was made of this locally.

    Like many expats (but not all) I am sitting quietly this morning waiting for some clarity around the situation. And what happens next.

  2. I made the mistake of reading the ABC web site and read the reader comments. Unfortunately, several errors of fact.

    There were 2 comments that I think need comment. One that Australia lead the UN presence – wrong ! The other that the OZ/NZ military ought to be embarrassed by this morning’s event.

    The OZ/NZ military were invited by the Timorese government and do not do things without consultation. They were asked once to get Major Alfredo but failed. After that, the Timorese government have elected to go for consultation. On many occasions, they have known just where Alfredo is but I am not aware that they have been given the specific instruction to apprehend him since that failure.

    The OZ/NZ military do not do static security of Timorese government officials or buildings. If any of that is deemed necessary, it is the UN police who do that. For months, the Timorese military have looked after the President and the President’s close protection security is all Timorese (as it was last Thursday morning). It has been the Timorese preference to move to doing as much of these day-to-day things as possible, leaving the OZ/NZ military as a reaction force and by their very presence, a stabilising influence.

  3. Dear, the president was shot this morning and it seems the prime-minister Gusmão managed to escape from an attack from Alfredo Reinado, who is supposed to be shot by the president’s guards. Do you have any information on this? How is the situation in Dili?

  4. Will you post an update this morning? How does martial law look and feel, if indeed that bit of info was fact? Any talk of international phone service being down?

    Thank you for your updates and insight on the situation. I couldn’t view the map; what format?

    Take care.

  5. TY, for the information, i just had the chance to visit your blog.I m strong Supporter to the East Timoreese struggle since 1994.
    since then we had Demo in every year In sri Lanka, infront of the Indonesian Embassy.
    I m visited several time to ET,including the last Election.

    I will follow your blog today onwards,Good luck Take care

    Freddy Gamage

  6. Whilst it has been a few years since I’ve been in Ramos-Horta’s residence, I remember it well.

    Well enough to be annoyed at the Herald Sun for getting the location totally wrong.

    If you see the guy after his recovery tell him that the former sysadmin for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation sends his best wishes.

    Hare dalan di’ak.

Comments are closed.