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August 20, 2017

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18 arrested for 'disturbing order' in siege protest

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Eighteen people have been rounded up on charges of disturbing order in connection with Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen's Operation Siege, Taipei police said yesterday.

Tsai ordered a 1,000-strong crowd to besiege the Taipei Guest House, where Chen Yunlin, chairman of the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait, met briefly with President Ma Ying-jeou Thursday morning.

Among the suspects were college students, factory and unemployed laborers, a Taipei police spokesman told the press.

"We are trying to find out whether they have any connection with the mob," the spokesman said.

After the clashes between the crowd and riot police, Tsai said she did not order a siege of the Grand Hotel in Taipei, where Chen and his ARATS delegates stayed during their four-day stay. "There might be those with mob connections among those protesters milling at Yuanshan," she added.

A serious clash took place after the crowd broke through a police cordon at the northern end of Zhongshan Bridge at Yuanshan.

But there were a score of "young men" among the crowd gathered at the Jingfu Gate or the East Gate, which is the eastern end of Ketagalan Avenue leading to the Office of the President, the police spokesman said.

They couldn't be identified. Taipei police are looking for them.

All the suspects, the police spokesman said, will be arraigned before Taipei district prosecutors today.

"They were all taken in their clash with police at Yuanshan," the spokesman added. They marched peacefully on the Grand Hotel until 11 p.m.

Then, the police spokesman said, some in the crowd threw feces at the guards at the northern end of the bridge across the Keelung River.

"Molotov cocktails were also thrown," a lieutenant in command of a riot police contingent said. "It looked like a street war," he lamented.

Fire engines were called for to disperse the crowd at 1 a.m. yesterday.

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