Timor-Leste leader emerges from coma

Feb. 21, 2008 at 6:59 AM

DARWIN, Australia, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta is conscious after emerging from an induced coma following an assassination attempt, the country's prime minister said.

Ramos-Horta awoke Wednesday and spoke with family members at a hospital in Darwin, Australia, where he is recuperating, CNN reported Thursday. It may be another month before he is discharged and several more months for him to fully recover, doctors said.

"One of his first words was to mention to his close relatives to look after the people of East Timor," Timor-Leste Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres told CNN. "Even in his critical condition, his mind is still with the people of East Timor and we're very proud to have a president like this."

Timor-Leste was formerly called East Timor.

Gunmen shot Ramos-Horta twice in the back Feb. 11 in Dili, Timor-Leste. They also attacked Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on the same day but he escaped unhurt.

Ramos-Horta, 58, was "aware" of the circumstances leading to his hospitalization, but the assassination attempt has not been discussed with family members or physicians, Guterres said.

Guterres said police are investigating the assassination attempt.

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