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Taipei City receives unidentified call threatening to assassinate president

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taipei City Government hotline received a call Wednesday from an unknown male who held a 20-second conversation in which he threatened to assassinate the president prior to hanging up.

Taipei City Government spokesman Chang Chi-chiang (張其強) said yesterday that at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday April 16, the Taipei City 1999 Citizen Hotline picked up a call from an anonymous man who told the operator that he wanted to assassinate President Ma Ying-jeou.

According to the hotline operator with the last name Lee who received the call, the caller sounded furious during the conversation. Even after Lee warned the caller that threatening to assassinate the president is a possible violation of the law, the caller seemed unafraid and continued with his intimidation.

After a reported 20 seconds of the call, the man cut off the conversation angrily — but not before leaving a callback number. The number was later discovered to be the switchboard number for the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of China (中華民國國防部).

Lee reported the case to authorities immediately after the call, upon which a special task force was set up by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Taipei City Police Department.

The two precincts, Zhongzheng First and Second, responsible for security around the Office of the President and the Presidential Residence respectively have also been strengthened as a result of the threatening phone call.

Military spokesman Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) also stated earlier yesterday that the case is currently under joint investigation by a military police investigation team and the police. The military is not ruling out the possibility that the caller left the number as a prank or gave it deliberately to frame the military.

The Taipei City Police Department stated that this is not the first time someone has called in and threatened to assassinate the president. A man previously called the hotline while intoxicated during a phase of long-term unemployment, and made the same threat. Though no concrete attempts have been made on the president's life, the police advised the general public to refrain from experimenting with the kind of call in question, as it is considered a crime of intimidation.

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