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300,000 people protest Taiwan election
By Wu Gang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-12 07:54

Nearly 100 people were injured and a dozen arrested after some 300,000 angry Taiwan demonstrators protesting last month's election results clashed with police early Sunday morning.

Taiwan riot police clash with angry supporters of Lien Chan as they tried to storm a barricade outside Chen Shui-bian's office April 10, 2004. The violence erupted after more than 200,000 protesters marched in Taipei to demand an independent inquiry into an election-eve assassination attempt on Chen, which opposition supporters suspect was staged to win sympathy votes. [Reuters] 
The violence erupted after the protesters tried to storm barbed-wire barriers protecting Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's office in Taipei.

Protesters demanded an independent inquiry into an election-eve shooting on Chen, which opposition supporters suspect was part of a conspiracy staged to win sympathy votes.

In the worst clash since the election, about 2,000 protesters used part of a large scaffold as a battering ram and tried to charge through iron barriers and barbed wire.

They threw at least one Molotov cocktail, tables, chairs, placards and bottles, before authorities using water cannon and about 8,000 helmeted police wielding wood batons and shields forced them back.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou said 96 people were injured in the clash, including 55 police. Thirteen protesters were arrested, he said.

The protest was initiated by allies of the Kuomintang (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP). The two groups have jointly raced against the Democratic Progressive Party during the election last month.

"To seize power by using unfair and unjust means will never be accepted," KMT Chairman Lien Chan said. "All the dirty tricks should be clearly exposed to all."

Again Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James C.Y. Soong urged the leader of the Taiwan authorities to set up as soon as possible an independent inquiry into the shooting in which Chen was lightly wounded.

Taiwan riot police turn water cannons on protesting supporters of Lien Chan as they try to storm a barricade outside the "presidential office" in Taipei April 10, 2004. [Reuters]
Concluding yesterday that Chen was definitely shot, a top US forensics expert brought in to probe the mysterious shooting by adding that he was still not sure if the shooting was faked.

US expert's findings

But he pointed to the rounded heads of the bullets, which reduced their ability to penetrate, and to the amount and quality of gunpowder used as areas that needed additional investigation.

"The amount of gunpowder can be adjusted to alter the bullet's destructive power," Dr Henry Lee, head of a forensics institute in the US state of Connecticut, said.

Chen says he was gashed across the stomach and "Vice-President" Annette Lu was wounded in the knee by two bullets fired from a homemade handgun as they campaigned in an open-top jeep in the southern city of Tainan on March 19.

The Nationalists says the shooting may have been faked or staged to win sympathy votes. Chen won the poll by a thin margin the day after the attack.

According to late reports by the Taiwan media, the KMT and a civilian accused the bodyguard of Annette Lu of firing the shot from inside the jeep, said huaxia.com.

The KMT pointed out that video footage showed the bodyguard raised a black bag against the windscreen before the shooting. There was a gunshot hole left on the windscreen.

The bag might have contained a handgun, and the bodyguard could have been taking aim when raising the bag, the report quoted a woman surnamed Fu as saying.

The footage also showed a bodyguard holding a white bottle which seemed to be placing red liquid that looked like paint on Chen's belly after the shooting, to make it seem he had been shot, the KMT said.

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