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Fire guts part of late Taiwan leader's residence: police

world Updated: Sep 29, 2009 12:35 IST

AFP
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A blaze has gutted part of late Taiwan leader Chiang Kai-shek's former residence, with investigators probing on Tuesday if arson was the cause, police said.

The fire broke out late on Tuesday in the two-storey mansion, which was being renovated and was partially open to the public, while its adjoining garden has been a popular tourist attraction for many years.

Cultural experts were assessing the extent of the damage to the historic site, which is located in an upscale part of Taipei.

Chiang, who lived in the mansion for a quarter of a century until his death in 1975, is the most controversial figure in modern Taiwan history, personifying the island's difficult relationship with China.

Born on the mainland, he rose to supreme power there before being expelled by the communists in 1949 and forced to settle in Taiwan.

There he used his enormous propaganda and security apparatus to crush all hints of a separate identity for the island, while emphasising its cultural and linguistic links with the mainland, making him hated by many.

In 2007, a fire gutted another Chiang villa on the outskirts of Taipei.