Wed, Sep 20, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Chen loyalists, detractors clash in Kaohsiung, Tainan

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Following violent clashes between opponents and proponents of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in Kaohsiung City on Monday night, a tense shouting match took place yesterday between rival protesters in Tainan City, where anti-Chen protesters were staging a sit-in.

To prevent scuffling between the two camps, more than 100 police officers were despatched to the scene and barricades were set up.

An anti-Chen supporter wearing a red shirt had her red car smashed by pro-Chen protesters when she was on her way out of the protest site.

TV news clips showed pro-Chen supporters hitting and kicking the back of the car as the woman drove away.

One protester shattered the rear windshield, while another used his helmet to smash the front windshield and dent the hood.

Another anti-Chen woman was hit by a rock and was later rushed to the nearby hospital.

An Asia Television cameraman was hit in the mouth by a placard that had been thrown at him.

TV political commentator Wang Ben-hu (汪笨湖) visited the protest site and urged pro-Chen supporters to remain calm.

The anti-Chen sit-in was scheduled to end at 10pm and by 10:18 participants were being transported from the site in police buses.

Tainan City Police Chief Wang Wen-chung (王文忠) told reporters yesterday that because the city government had granted permission for the sit-in, police were obligated to protect the protesters.

Meanwhile, on Monday night, approximately 100 anti-Chen protesters and 2,000 Chen supporters engaged in a shouting match at the intersection of Chunghua Road and Shihchuan Road in downtown Kaohsiung, where Chen Chun-sheng (陳春生), convener of a "depose Chen" campaign office in the city, held an informal "evening tea gathering" without obtaining prior permission from the Kaohsiung City Government.

Significant numbers of the president's supporters in this traditional Democratic Progressive Party stronghold thronged to the site after watching TV news reports of the standoff.

Instead, divided by police barricades, the rival camps traded barbs.

Some of Chen's supporters clashed with police while trying to break through police barricades.

While the number of Chen's supporters on the scene continued to increase, the anti-Chen protesters gradually left under police escort. At about 11:30pm, the president's supporters broke through the police barricades, plunging the scene into chaos. Police immediately erected barbed wire barricades and used a police bus to remove the remaining 20-odd anti-Chen activists from the scene.

The situation was brought under control by around midnight.

Police said six separate altercations had taken place and that three Chen supporters had been arrested on suspicion of assaulting anti-Chen protesters and police officers. The three were freed early yesterday morning after being interviewed by police. Police said they would decide later whether to charge the individuals after perusing recordings of the incidents.

Kaohsiung City Police Chief Tsai Yi-ren (蔡以仁) yesterday ordered police to use barbed wire barricades to cordon off the site of the altercations.

Tsai told the press that police would not tolerate any further protests that were not approved by the city government.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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