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Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Chen back in Taipei after shooting

Friday, March 19, 2004 Posted: 9:29 AM EST (1429 GMT)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (CNN) -- Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has arrived back in Taipei after surviving an apparent assassination attempt in the southern city of Tainan.

Chen was released from hospital Friday after being shot and wounded while campaigning for Saturday's national election.

Chen's running mate, Vice President Annette Lu, was also treated for a gun wound and later discharged from hospital.

"Both the president and vice president have just checked out," a spokeswoman at the Chi Mei hospital in the southern city of Tainan, Chen's hometown, told Reuters.

No arrests were reported and it was not clear who fired on Chen and Lu.

Chen was shot in the stomach at 1:45 p.m. (0545 GMT), the Presidential Office said. Lu's leg was grazed by a bullet.

The office said both Chen and Lu had called for calm after the shooting.

"They did not suffer life-threatening injuries. They urge the public to cool down," Chiou I-jen, secretary-general in the Presidential Office, told a news conference.

Chiou said the elections would go on as planned, but the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and opposition Kuomintang party had both temporarily suspended their election campaigns.

Chen and Lu had been riding in the back of a convertible four-wheel drive vehicle in Tainan when an unknown attacker or attackers opened fire.

The crowd was cheering as Chen and Lu waved from the back of their vehicle, and fireworks were being set off along the route as the candidates passed.

Presidential spokesman James Huang told CNN nobody heard any gunshots or initially realized the leaders had been wounded because of the noise from the firecrackers. No arrests have yet been made.

Video from the parade showed a bullet hole in the windshield of the vehicle. Blood can be seen on the president's jacket as someone holds a cloth to the bullet wound on the right side of his waist.

Doctors at the Chi Mei hospital displayed a picture of a wound cutting across the front Chen's belly that was about four inches (11 cms) long and just under an inch (2 cms) deep and wide. Another picture showed a doctor holding the bullet slug in his palm.

"We were shocked and we didn't anticipate this type of event occurring only 24 hours before the election," Huang told CNN.

"I guess most people in Taiwan are shocked and they are very concerned about the security of their president and vice president."

Huang said Taiwan's armed forces had been placed on high alert and the National Security Council held an emergency meeting.

Opposition presidential candidate Lien Chan condemned the shooting and extended his best wishes.

"We are all shocked by the incident ... We all condemn this act of violence. On the other hand, we wish them a quick recovery," he said.

Chen has been campaigning for a second term after four years in office.

Along with the presidential election, a controversial referendum that China considers a harbinger for a vote on the island's independence will be held Saturday.

The referendum will ask voters to consider if China should reduce its military threat against the island.

Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Chen has ignored warnings from Washington and Beijing not to take any steps that could fuel tensions with China.

Chen and his pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party swept to power in 2000, ousting the Nationalist Party, which ruled the island for five decades and opposes Taiwan independence.

( Source )

Some people are already calling it a staged shooting, calibrated to win swing votes in sympathy for the incumbents.

Edit, 23:30 CST Sun 21 Mar 2004: Well, the initial voting tally shows Chen ahead by a narrow amrgin (fewer than 30000 votes out of 13 million).
Edit, 11:15 CST Thu 25 Mar 2004: There is a great clamor for a recount, complete with rallies, escalation, police crackdowns, etc.

Rather than start a debate (and perhaps a flame war) over the rumors above: what do you all think of the parallels being drawn between this election and Florida in the 2000 Presidential Election?


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