Taiwan to improve presidential security after guard suicide

TAIPEI - Taiwan said Thursday it will enhance security arrangements at the presidential office after a guard shot himself dead in an apparent suicide while on duty.

The 22-year-old guard, identified by his surname Kao, shot himself in the left chest with a rifle early Thursday and died in hospital an hour later, according to the military police command.

The incident triggered security concerns, especially since it took place at the front gate of the presidential office which President Ma Ying-jeou passes through every day, said the state Central News Agency.

"We will review the screening and assignment of our personnel and continue to enhance the procedure... using the highest standards," said Cheng Sheng-yang, a spokesman for the military police command.

The uniformed guard force at the presidential office in downtown Taipei consists mostly of young men doing national service, some no older than 18.

Vice defence minister Chaou Shih-chang expressed regret at the incident and apologised to the public, adding that an initial probe suggested the guard had killed himself due to relationship trouble.

It was the second time in recent years that a presidential guard committed suicide while on duty.

In 2007, a soldier shot himself in the head while guarding the president's residence, also allegedly over relationship problems, according to security authorities.

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