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Old 03-19-2004, 04:10 AM   #1
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Taiwanese President, Vice-President Shot

Official: Taiwan's President, VP Shot
1 minute ago

By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer

TAIPEI, Taiwan - President Chen Shui-bian and his vice president were wounded Friday when shots were fired into their motorcade on the final day of campaigning for a landmark election and referendum that could be a turning point in Taiwan's tense relationship with China.

Chen was shot in the stomach and Vice President Annette Lu was hit in the right knee. Their injuries were not life threatening, said Chiou I-jen, secretary-general in the Presidential Office.

No arrests were reported and it was not clear what the motivation was for the apparent assassination attempt, in a street choked with supporters of the president in his hometown, the southern city of Tainan. Officials declined to speculate about who fired the shots.

"They did not suffer life-threatening injuries. They urge the public to cool down," Chiou said at a news conference. He added that "the president is conscious" and "can still direct the nation's affairs."

The presidential vote will go ahead as planned on Saturday, an election official said.

The Chinese government, which had sharply criticized Chen's plans for a referendum, had no immediate reaction to the shootings. The Foreign Ministry referred questions to the Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office, which didn't answer telephone calls.

The candidates' parties, which had planned massive rallies across the island, decided to suspend their campaign activities.

Opposition candidate Lien Chan told a news conference: "We were very, very shocked. We wish President Chen and Vice President Lu will recover soon. We strongly condemn any form of violence."

Lien of the Nationalist Party said the rallies would be canceled so that "everyone can go home, rest and think about things calmly before going out to vote."

A large crowd of Chen supporters gathered outside the hospital in Tainan. Using Chen's nickname, the crowd chanted, "A-bian, get elected," as they pumped their arms in the air. Some waved green flags, the color of Chen's Democratic Progressive Party.

Chen was riding in a red convertible four-wheel-drive vehicle and waving to crowds lining the streets. People were setting off celebratory fireworks as he drove by and early media reports said he was injured by firecrackers.

"It was definitely a gun attack," Chiou said, adding that officials found one bullet in Chen's stomach.

"The vice president first felt pain in her knee and she thought it was caused by firecrackers," Chiou said. "Then the president felt some wetness on his stomach area, and then they realized something was wrong."

Lawmaker Wang Hsing-nan told TVBS cable news that he was traveling in a car behind Chen's vehicle.

"The president suffered a deep wound about three centimeters (1.2 inches) deep in the stomach," Wang told TVBS.

This is the first time a Taiwanese president has been shot. However, Chen insists that his wife, Wu Shu-chen, was the target of an assassination attempt in 1985 when a truck ran over her three times, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down.

Chen has accused the Nationalist Party of being involved, but the truck driver and party insisted it was an accident and the driver wasn't charged.

This election has been an emotional, hotly contested race dominated by negative campaigning.

Lien is promising to take a softer approach with the island's biggest rival, China.

Chen also planned an unprecedented islandwide referendum on Saturday asking voters whether Taiwan should beef up its defenses to protect against hundreds of Chinese missiles pointed at the island.

Beijing, which has nearly 500 short-range missiles deployed across the Taiwan Strait, has sharply criticized the referendum, saying it's an ill-disguised push by Taipei toward independence.

On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry (news - web sites) spokesman Kong Quan indirectly criticized Chen, who is the nemesis of the mainland's communist government for not endorsing its "one-China" policy.

"Some people in Taiwan, under the pretext of democracy, are moving toward the referendum for independence to damage stability in the Taiwan Straits," Kong said. "The whole international community believes that such a move is not beneficial and even harmful to the stability in the region."

The United States also has expressed its displeasure at the referendum, along with France, Germany, Japan and South Korea (news - web sites).

China is traditionally a hot topic in major Taiwanese elections. The two sides split when the Communists took over the mainland in 1949, and Beijing is pressuring Taiwan to unify.

Lien and Chen agree on most of the basic issues involving China policy. Neither candidate favors immediate unification, and both are highly distrustful of the Communist leadership.

However, Chen has been more aggressive in pushing for a Taiwanese identity separate from China's, and this has raised tensions with Beijing. China has threatened to attack if Taiwan seeks a permanent split.

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Old 03-19-2004, 05:32 AM   #2
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Yeah, I saw it on the news.
What's happening in the world?

I just read that the president and the vice-president have left the hospital again. I hope they get well soon.


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Old 03-19-2004, 10:01 AM   #3
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This is horrible. I'm starting to think that we live on one huge globe of madness. Killings, shootings, bombings.........damn.
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