Baton-wielding riot police cleared Taiwan's government headquarters of a sit-in on Monday, a day after scores of mainly student protesters had torn down barbed-wire barricades and used ladders to break into second-floor offices.
"The government will never tolerate the occupation of government buildings, which seriously hinder the operation of our government," said Taiwanese presidential spokeswoman Garfie Li.
Police also deployed a water cannon against people who were protesting outside of the two government buildings in the national capital, Taipei. According to authorities, at least 58 people were arrested and 137 injured, including 24 who were hospitalized.
"Suddenly water was spraying at us and it was very powerful," said Frank Hsieh, a protester and former prime minister from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party. "My glasses flew off and I was very dizzy."
Parliament still occupied
Hundreds of activists remain holed up inside parliament's main chamber, which they have occupied since last Tuesday to protest against a pending trade agreement with mainland China. The protesters are backed by the Black Island Nation Youth Front, a student organization based at Tsing Hua University.
Signed by Taipei and Beijing last June, the trade pact is awaiting ratification by the Taiwanese parliament. Opponents claim that the agreement will give Beijing too much influence over Taiwan. But Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has refused to back down in the face of the protests, arguing that the trade agreement is vital for the country's economic future.
Taiwan split from Beijing in 1949 after Communist Party leader Mao Tse-Tung seized control of mainland China.
slk/se (AP, AFP, dpa)