VIOLENCE.....Demonstrators overturning the police car.
TWENTY cops were injured and one police car overturned as police fired tear gas and aimed chemical-laced water at thousands of Bersih 3.0 demonstrators in Kuala Lumpur Saturday.
The Bersih 3.0 protest which had started at about 2pm on a peaceful note, ended ugly when demonstrators broke through the barb wire and barricades at the Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman/Jalan Raja junction to get to Dataran Merdeka at about 3pm.
That incident, which took place just before de facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim spoke at Masjid Jamek, sparked off the firing of water cannons and tear gas.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators had earlier gathered at various spots of the city such as Jalan Sultan, Jalan Petaling, Central Market, KLCC and Brickfields in a carnival-like atmosphere to take part in the rally to fight for fair and clean elections.
Authorities insist the elections will be free and fair, rejecting activists' claims that the Election Commission is biased and that voter registration lists are tainted with fraudulent names, AP reported.
Demonstrators wearing yellow T-shirts, waving banners and chanting slogans poured into downtown Kuala Lumpur, massing near Dataran Merdeka that police had sealed off with barbed wire and barricades.
Authorities had obtained a court order that made Dataran Merdeka and its surrounding roads off limits from midnight Friday till May 1 and had offered Bersih organisers alternative venues.
The demonstration remained peaceful for several hours, prompting organising co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan to declare it a success and ask people to head home. Some reports suggested that the Bersih rally had been 'hijacked' by Opposition politicians for their own ends.
Riot cops fired tear gas and water cannons at several other places when the demonstrators refused to disperse. Reports said three demonstrators were injured while about 60 were arrested.
Outside Sogo on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, a police car allegedly knocked into two persons and furious demonstrators overturned the vehicle.
Police said one protester snatched a pistol from its personnel during the chaos, but the weapon was later recovered.
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said 20 policemen and three demonstrators received treatment for unspecified injuries. He insisted that police acted "with utmost restraint," but opposition leaders and rights groups said the use of tear gas was unjustified, AP reported.