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119 officers injured in protests: NPA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The National Police Agency (NPA, 警政署) said that 119 riot police and special police were injured during the two days of dramatic clashes between activists and law enforcement.

Following the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by student activists, the Special Police Sixth Headquarters (保安警察第六總隊) reinforced security at the Executive Yuan in preparation for further takeovers. However as the quiet protest continued, the reinforced security was at one point weakened by a redistribution of police personnel. With less than 50 officers with orders not to resort to violence against student activists, organized protesters breached the Executive Yuan at around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 23.

Though officers stationed at the perimeter tried to persuade demonstrators to fall back, they were overpowered, leaving the authorities no choice but to call for backup.

With orders to secure the government office, over 2,000 police were mobilized, consisting of backup from riot police and special police from the first, third and fifth headquarters. Riot control vehicles were also dispatched, hosing down students and their supporters starting at 4:20 a.m. yesterday.

Seven waves of an evacuation operation were set in motion, resulting in what some local media outlets call the Taiwanese equivalent of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, being the most severe case of confrontation between police and civilians since 2008, with police accused of overstepping their authority.

According to the NPA, a total of 119 officers have been reported injured.

An official source who chose to remain anonymous said that they hope the general public remembers that the actions of a few do not speak for the masses, adding that as part of their duties, the police were ordered to refrain from disclosing their personal views to the media.

Most officers, said another anonymous source, had to stay on duty for hours on end with little time to recuperate. Though some officers were reluctant, they were required to perform their duties regardless of their physical state and political beliefs. Violence was not the intention, yet it was inevitable in the chaos of the demonstration as a result of prolonged fatigue, the inability to communicate and orders from higher authorities, the source added.

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