Clashes continue in Beijing


BEIJING, June 4, 1989 (UPI) - Defiant citizens ignored army gunfire to hurl firebombs at a long tank column early Monday in downtown Beijing, where troops struggled for a second day to gain control of the streets and quell a citywide uprising that left more than 300 people dead.

The scattered clashes were fueled by growing rage among college students and workers at the military suppression late Saturday and Sunday of the non-violent pro-democracy movement in Beijing's main square.


Protesters displayed ghastly evidence of the bloodletting that began Saturday night, including headless corpses and the body of a soldier burned, then strung up on a pedestrian overpass in downtown Beijing.

Mayor Chen Xitong issued a tough statement Sunday night on state-run television saying that more than 1,000 soldiers were wounded or killed. He warned that the government and the Communist Party had ''reached the end of their patience.''


''If anyone continues their resistance, they will be severely punished,'' Chen said.

Chen's statement was the first from a senior official after the bloody weekend battle for central Tiananmen Square, where troops fired into crowds and used armored personnel carriers to roll over a tent city occupied by students since May 13.

The violence threatened to escalate. Western diplomats and foreign witnesses said students who have led seven weeks of pro-democracy protests had captured an unknown number of weapons.

At Chinese People's University, students paraded a captured armored personnel carrier through the streets of the university district in northwestern Beijing. Other students said sympathetic soldiers had surrendered their assault rifles.

Sporadic gunfire continued as crowds of unarmed citizens harassed troop convoys moving through the city. Soldiers at times fired wildly, peppering buildings around central Tiananmen Square, including the Beijing Hotel, with stray rounds.

A steady rain Sunday night kept the number of clashes down.

In a massive show of force, a column of 70 battle tanks rumbled through the city's downtown streets early Monday, easily crushing puny barricades of fences and trash cans left out by citizens.

But protesters hurled firebombs at the tanks as they passed an intersection near the Beijing Hotel, just east of the square, about 3 a.m. Monday. The gasoline-filled bottles draped several accompanying armored carriers in flames, but had little other effect.


Thousands of soldiers cordoned off most of Tiananmen Square, the focus of the recent anti-government demonstrations, the biggest since communist China was founded in 1949.

The unrest prompted Premier Li Peng to declare martial law May 20, but it had not been enforced until Saturday night's crackdown.

Casualty figures remained sketchy. Reports from hospitals, colleges and witnesses yielded at least 318 people confirmed killed and nearly 700 wounded, but the toll was expected to jump as records were updated.

Some hospitals said they had casualties, but workers were either too busy or too frightened to reveal the numbers once plainclothes security personnel had moved into the facilities.

Students at several universities said hundreds of their classmates were unaccounted for, and claimed deaths were far higher. But many students were reported to have gone underground.

In his statement, Mayor Chen denounced the ''counterrevolutionary rebellion'' and proclaimed ''an initial victory in stopping the turmoil.''

Television earlier broadcast an announcement saying soldiers and police had been abducted by protesters and demanded the return of personnel and all stolen weapons and equipment.

Chen, a hard-liner, also called on Beijing residents to remain on the job. There have been scattered calls for a general strike.


Latest Headlines


Follow Us