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.
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.