East Timor's president in serious but stable condition after assassination attempt

Eds: UPDATES with doctor's comments on president's operation and condition.

AP Photo DIL108, DIL103, JAK105

AP Graphic TIMOR PRESIDENT

By GUIDO GOULART

Associated Press Writer

DILI, East Timor (AP) -- East Timor's president was in "extremely serious" but stable condition Tuesday after surgeons worked through the night to remove bullet fragments suffered in a failed coup attempt, the administrator of an Australian hospital said.

Dr. Len Notaros, the general manager of the Royal Darwin Hospital, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Tuesday morning that three surgeons operated on President Jose Ramos-Horta for three hours overnight to remove the fragments and repair his wounds.

"His condition remains extremely serious but by the same token, stable," Notaros said. "The next few days will be the telling point."

Rebel soldiers shot Ramos-Horta in his home early Monday and separately attacked the prime minister, who escaped unhurt. The country's top fugitive,Alfredo Reinado, was killed in one of the attacks.

Ramos-Horta, 58, was airlifted to a hospital in the northern Australian city of Darwin.

Notaros said Ramos-Horta's wounds indicated he had been shot two or three times. The most serious wound was to his the lower part of his right lung near his liver, and would likely require more surgery. There was also a risk of sepsis infection, Notaros said.

The fragments will be handed to Australia Federal Police for the investigation into the shooting, Notaros said. At least one fragment was being left in his body, and was not thought to be threatening, he said.