Malaysia

Police fire tear gas, water cannons as demonstrators push into Dataran

By Clara Chooi, Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, Lisa J. Ariffin and Mohd Farhan Darwis
April 28, 2012
Latest Update: April 29, 2012 06:04 am

Water cannon trucks are positioned between Bersih supporters and Dataran Merdeka, in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy MayWater cannon trucks are positioned between Bersih supporters and Dataran Merdeka, in Kuala Lumpur April 28, 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — Police opened fire with water cannons and tear gas on demonstrators who pushed through the barricades in front of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) leading to Dataran Merdeka, resulting in chaos on the streets.

Some of the 15,000-strong crowd broke down the barriers and moved towards the historic square leading to police firing chemical-laced water and tear gas canisters.

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali tried to negotiate with police, who told the Gombak MP to calm the group down. But despite his advice they still broke through the barricades.

More than 30 were arrested and taken to be processed at the Royal Selangor Club, which is the closest they have gotten to the square so far.

“Police were forced to release tear gas when assembly participants tried to break through the barricade,” the force said on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Police are now headed down Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja Laut, firing tear gas at protestors.

Both water cannons and tear gas have also been fired at Pasar Seni.

Orders are being given out for riot police to continue shooting water cannons and tear gas at the dispersing crowd.

Observers from law activists LoyarBurok say “tear gas was fired without warning deep and direct into the crowd.”

The crowd on Lebuh Pasar Besar also pushed down the barricades but about 30 policemen armed with batons, shields and gas masks blocked their path to Dataran Merdeka. 

Riot police then fired water cannons and tear gas after they refused to heed orders to disperse.

Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and other opposition leaders including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were blocked by four police trucks near the Sogo shopping complex.

But the trucks have since turned around towards Dataran Merdeka and the group is now in front of the PAS headquarters on Jalan Raja Laut.

Although Ambiga left, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders began an impromptu ceramah to close to 2,000 who remained in front of the PAS office despite tear gas filling surrounding streets.

At about 4.30pm, police finally dispersed the crowd but the opposition leaders have taken refuge inside the PAS headquarters.

Several hundred protestors had regrouped in front of the Coliseum and Sogo on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, facing off riot police.