Measures to battle terrorism must be strengthened: Lee

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - Page 1

Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源) said yesterday that Taiwan should strengthen its anti-terrorism awareness and training after last Friday’s incidents involving explosive devices.

“We should conduct an overall review of our inter-ministerial anti-terrorism operation mechanism in the wake of the recent failed bombings on the high-speed railway and at a legislator’s office,” Lee said on the sidelines of a legislative session.

Lee also said he felt saddened by the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday that left three people dead and more than 170 injured, calling them an act of terrorism.

“While terrorist attacks have been rare in Taiwan, we should heighten our alert on terrorism,” Lee said.

In the past, he said, Taiwan has focused mainly on preventing natural disasters.

The Ministry of the Interior would join forces with national security agencies and other government agencies to reinforce the nation’s anti-terrorism mechanisms and response plans, Lee said.

Asked whether security measures would be tightened on the high-speed rail following Friday’s incident, Lee said a balance needs to be worked out before any concrete steps are taken.

“If current security guidelines for commercial air travel were applied to the high-speed rail, passenger-flow systems would have to be redesigned, which would cause a lot of inconvenience,” Lee said, adding that other considerations should also figure in the decision.

At the moment, he said, the most important thing is to determine why the individuals planted the explosive devices on the train.

“Police and prosecutors are investigating whether it was an isolated incident or part of a series of organized terrorist attacks,” he said.

Two men suspected of planting the devices on Friday were taken into police custody on Tuesday.

Hu Tsung-hsien (胡宗賢) and Chu Ya-tung (朱亞東), both in their 40s, traveled to Guangdong Province, China, on Friday soon after allegedly leaving two suitcases containing explosives in a toilet on a high-speed train and two more outside Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Chia-chen’s (盧嘉辰) constituency office in New Taipei City (新北市).

None of the devices exploded.

The two men were arrested with the help of Chinese authorities and were repatriated on Tuesday.