Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 1 News List

President shot

President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu were recovering after being shot in Tainan City yesterday

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu canvass for votes in Tainan yesterday seconds after being shot. A bullet hole is visible in the windshield of the Jeep.

PHOTO: WU HSING-HUA, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) were shot yesterday afternoon while leading a motorcade in Tainan City, but were assessed to be in good condition with only minor injuries.

The government immediately called a national security meeting at the Presidential Office to activate emergency security measures, including the convening of a special Cabinet task force and the upgrading of military and police readiness.

But today's presidential election and referendum will proceed as normal.

"The presidential election and the referendum will be held in accordance with the original schedule on Saturday [today]. We hope that everyone in the country will remain calm and proceed with voting normally to strengthen Taiwan's democracy," Premier Yu Shyi-kun said at the conclusion of the one-hour meeting.

Yu also said that because Chen was not seriously hurt, he would be fully capable of continuing with his presidential duties.

Initial reports of the shooting emerged at 2:15pm, but both the government and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at first would not confirm them.

Chen's top aide, Secretary General to the President Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), held a press conference at 3:30pm, saying that the president and vice president had been injured, but that their lives were not in danger and that both were conscious.

Chiou said the shooting occurred at 1:45pm, when Chen and Lu, standing side-by-side in a Jeep in a Tainan City motorcade, were struck by bullets as they passed near the intersection of Wenhsien Road and Chinhua Road.

With the hubbub of thousands of supporters lining the streets and smoke from firecrackers all around, confusion reigned and the presidential security detail was unable to locate the source of the gunfire.

"The vice president first felt sharp pain in her right knee, then the president felt that the right part of his stomach was wet," Chiou said. "He lifted his jacket and discovered blood."

Chiou said that security personnel escorted Chen and Lu to the Chi Mei Medical Center in adjacent Yungkang City, Tainan County.

For some time there was no confirmation that Chen and Lu had been shot, with some media reports suggesting a firecracker might have been responsible.

However, TV pictures showed what appeared to be a bullet hole on the passenger side of the vehicle's windscreen.

"The National Police Administration and the Minister of Justice have convened a special task force to take charge of the investigation.

"As to the matter of who or what organization was responsible for this crime, or how many bullets [might have been involved], or whether there were any witnesses, the government has no concrete answers for the time being," Chiou said.

Asked about protective clothing for the president, Chiou said that neither Chen nor Lu had been wearing bulletproof vests, and stressed that the entire system of presidential security would be reviewed.

Shocked by the shooting, both the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance announced that they were calling off all campaign activities, including the parties' climactic night rallies, in the interests of public order.

"We ask all supporters to keep calm and not indulge in any irrational behavior," DPP campaign headquarters chief Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said.

Chang said that the DPP condemned the violence and hoped that the authorities would find the person or persons responsible.

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