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Central News Agency

Release Date: 2004-03-19 19:27:47

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Two prosecutors were assigned to investigate the shootings of President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu Friday, Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan said in Taipei.

The two prosecutors will lead a group of investigators from the Tainan branch of the Investigation Bureau and police officers to collect evidence in the case, Chen said

The shooting took place at 1:45 p.m. when Chen and Lu were riding in an open jeep parading the streets of Taiwan's Tainan City, in a last-ditch effort to get more votes before Saturday's presidential election. Their supporters lined the streets to greet him, with many of them setting off firecrackers.

As the motorcade cruised along Wenhsien Road, the president felt pain in his stomach and Lu, who was standing by his side, felt a pain in her knee.

A doctor from the president's medical team found that the president was wounded and bleeding, whereupon the president's car rushed to nearby Chi Mei Medical Center.

Doctors at the hospital found an 11 cm long, 2 cm wide wound on Chen's stomach below the navel and a metal object that they described as looking like a bullet. Fortunately the object did not penetrate his abdominal cavity.

Doctors said the wound was sewn up after being cleaned and sterilized. Chen was admitted to the intensive care ward for observation, although his condition was described as stable and his ability to govern was not impaired.

Lu suffered an injury to her knee but was otherwise unscathed.

The incident stunned the country, which is absorbed in a fierce presidential election pitting Chen against opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan.

In Taipei, government officials gathered in an emergency meeting and Chen's chief of staff, saying at a news conference that the national security mechanism was activated after the incident, urged the public to calm down.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun promised to track down the assailant or assailants.

Central Election Commission Chairman Huang Shih-cheng said Saturday's ballot-casting will continue as scheduled, but both Chen's Democratic Progressive Party and Lien's KMT announced a halt to the rest of the day's campaign activities, which were supposed to culminate their respective campaigns.

Anxious supporters of Chen immediately crowded into the Chi Mei Medical Center to await any news about Chen's condition.

In Taipei, thousands of Chen supporters gathered at his national campaign headquarters, singing their campaign song to show their solidarity with the president.

A local television station reported later in the evening that police had found two empty cartridges near the site of the shooting.

(By Maubo Chang)

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