PM Malaysia Anwar hurt

PM Malaysia Anwar hurt as police target poll reformers Time to go|protesters cover their faces and run to escape the tear gas fired by the police. Photo: AFP





KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police fired tear gas and water cannon, making 1400 arrests during clashes yesterday with protesters who defied government warnings to rally in the capital for electoral reform. Leaders of opposition parties were among those detained during a massive security operation, but it failed to thwart the outlawed demonstration, in which 50,000 citizens - the organisers' figure - took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Protesters faced baton-wielding riot officers in front of a bus station, retreating and regrouping to push back police lines in a cat-and-mouse confrontation in a downpour. Some demonstrators fought back by picking up tear gas canisters, which they lobbed at police. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was injured during the protest when he fell on to the pavement after a tear gas attack and was taken to a hospital.

The protesters split into three main groups, and by late yesterday all were trying to reach the king's palace to hand over a memorandum detailing their demands. However, the police line held firm. ''Why is the government trying to intimidate citizens?'' said Mohamad Manij Abdullah, 50, a businessman who joined the rally. ''We are only trying to reform elections and have a free and fair government.''