Taipei, March 24 (CNA) Police began moving just past midnight Monday to disperse the protesters who broke into the Executive Yuan compound the previous evening to show opposition to the services trade pact with China
. Officers mobilized by the National Police Agency began pushing forward slowly in full riot gear, with protesters trying to push back. As of midnight, over 20 people had been arrested in the act of committing a crime, police said. Many protesters lay on the ground with arms interlocked to slow the advance. They were shouting slogans, including "Send back the service trade pact!" Police urged protesters to stand down even as they continued their advance and forcibly removed those people lying on the ground. Truck-mounted water cannons were on standby. Hundreds of protesters stormed into the compound around 7:30 p.m. Many of them had originally been part of the occupation of the Legislative Yuan, some 200 meters away, which began March 18. Some 60 protesters who broke into the three-story main office building were detained for questioning, said Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun. The building was believed to be mostly cleared of protesters before midnight. Premier Jiang Yi-huah made the order late Sunday for police to evict protesters, condemning their acts as "illegal and violent." He said he was saddened by protests that went out of control, a spokesman said. President Ma Ying-jeou
also condemned the violence and expressed support for Jiang's actions. Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP
), and Tsai Ing-wen
, a former DPP
chief, went to the scene and asked the police not to use force against the students.
(By Ben Liu, Yuris Ku and James Lee)