SYDNEY (AFP) — Australia will withdraw 200 troops from East Timor which were sent in the wake of attacks on the tiny nation's president and prime minister, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.
In a statement released late Saturday, Rudd said the situation in East Timor was stable enough to bring home the soldiers.
The Timorese government had requested the extra troops after President Jose Ramos-Horta was gunned down by rebel soldiers at his home on February 11, the same day that President Xanana Gusmao also survived a shooting attack.
Ramos-Horta, who was airlifted to Australia for surgery following the shooting and spent two months recuperating in the northern city of Darwin, returned to Dili on April 17 and last week lifted the state of emergency.
Rudd said the 200-strong rifle company group which had been sent in response to the February attacks had achieved its work and would not be replaced when it completed its tour on Sunday.
"Prime Minister Gusmao has written to me supporting this decision," Rudd said in a statement.
"He has thanked Australia for its assistance following the attacks and for our continuing support."
The withdrawal will leave about 750 Australian military personnel in the impoverished country to help restore security.
International forces have been stationed in East Timor since 2006 after a mass desertion among the armed forces prompted fighting between military factions and police and street violence that killed at least 37 people.
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