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Soldier honored for role in truck incident

TAIPEI -- A military conscript was awarded a medal yesterday in recognition of his immediate response to an incident in which a gravel truck smashed its way into the Presidential Office a day earlier.

Wu Chung-ho, a guard at the office, said he ran to push a button to activate a bulletproof door at the gate shortly after spotting the incoming truck, an action that helped reduce the damage caused by the most serious security breach at the Presidential Office in years.

Wu, 23, said he was not scared when he saw the truck approaching. At the time, he just felt that he had to close the bulletproof door to minimize the damage, he said.

“I felt it was like a movie,” Wu recalled, adding that he was honored to do his job to protect the Presidential Office.

Wu received the medal from the 211th Military Police Battalion, the unit responsible for security at the Presidential Office.

Meanwhile, the military said it has stepped up security measures around the office but declined to reveal details.

Presidential Office officials said work to repair the floor at the gate and parts of a damaged pillar have begun. A total of 20 granite blocks have also been placed in front of the gate to provide better protection, they said.

A security-enhancing special task force was established at the Presidential Office on Saturday in response to the incident.

The Taipei City Police Department's Zhongzheng First Precinct has also set up two checkpoints and 24-hour video surveillance on the main roads surrounding the Presidential Office in an effort to prevent similar incidents from occurring.

The 35-ton truck rammed the part of the Presidential Office building where President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice President Wu Den-yih and other officials usually get out of their cars upon arrival.

The driver of the truck, identified as 41-year-old Chang Teh-cheng, was taken to a nearby hospital shortly after the incident.

Police said that an initial investigation ruled out political motivation behind the incident, but said investigators found that the suspect was “somewhat dissatisfied with the current social conditions.”

Chang was the only person injured in the incident and was treated in the hospital under a police guard. He will be questioned further by prosecutors as soon as he has recovered sufficiently, said Taipei prosecutors.

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