A samurai sword-wielding Taiwanese attacker injured on Friday a guard outside Taiwan’s presidential office in what was described as politically-motivated assault.
Carrying the national flag of China, the perpetrator, identified only by his family name Lu, slashed a military police guard outside the office Friday, authorities said.
The 51-year-old man was overpowered by other guards and prevented from entering the nearly 100-year-old structure in the center of the capital. Lu attacked the officer as he tried to stop him entering the complex from a side gate, said presidential spokesman Alex Huang.
Lu, who was arrested at the scene, said he was expressing his political views and had stolen the sword from a nearby history museum, police told AFP.
It wasn’t immediately clear if President Tsai Ing-wen was in her office at the time of the attack.
The attacker “took a hammer and smashed a display case in a history museum to steal a samurai sword”, a police official working on the incident, who did not want to be named, told AFP.
“A Chinese national flag was found in his backpack. He said he wanted to express his political stance by going to the presidential office,” the official said.
Lu, 51, is currently being questioned by police. He is unemployed and has no prior criminal record.
The injured guard is in a stable condition after being rushed to hospital for treatment to a wound to his neck, Huang said.
The presidential office in the center of the capital Taipei is the headquarters of Taiwan’s Beijing-skeptic Tsai.
Relations with Chinese authorities have deteriorated since she took office last year as she has refused to agree to Beijing’s stance that Taiwan is part of “one China”. The island is a self-ruling democracy, but Beijing still sees it as part of its territory to be reunited.
Defense minister Feng Shih-kuan condemned the violence and praised the 24-year-old guard for bravely stopping the attacker.
The incident came as the presidential office hosted a family event for its staff, including their children.
“This was an open house event and I can’t imagine what the outcome would have been if he were to get in with the sword,” Feng told reporters.
TV footage showed Lu being carried away by four officers and put inside a police car at a side entrance to the presidential office, which has been cordoned off since the attack.
Local media reported that he had repeatedly left pro-China messages in comment sections online, including praise for the Liaoning, China’s only aircraft carrier.
The sword he used is carved with the words “Nanjing battle, 107 people killed”, according to a photo released by police.
An employee at the Armed Forces Museum, from which Lu stole the sword, said it had been used by the Japanese military in the massacre of residents of the Chinese city of Nanjing in 1937.
No further details were given, although a small minority in Taiwan actively support China’s claim to sovereignty over the self-governing island democracy. Tensions have risen between Taipei and Beijing since Tsai’s election last year because of her refusal to agree that Taiwan is an inherent part of China.
A large majority of Taiwanese support maintaining the island’s de-facto independent status and political violence has become relatively rare in Taiwan in recent years, limited mainly to fisticuffs between ruling and opposition party lawmakers in the legislature.