Taipei, May 3 (CNA) Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang said Thursday that he felt misery and regret about the suicide of a military police conscript who killed himself while standing guard at the Presidential Office earlier in the day.
"I apologize to the family of the soldier and to the public on behalf of the Ministry of National Defense for the tragedy," Chao said on the sidelines of a Legislative Yuan committee hearing.
The private, identified only by his family name of Kao, shot himself in the chest with his service T91 rifle while on duty at the main entrace to the Presidential Office at around 3 a.m., according to a press statement issued by the Military Police Command.
Kao was rushed to nearby National Taiwan University Hospital for emergency treatment, but showed no vital signs on arrival at the hospital, the statement said, adding that the conscript was pronounced dead after an hour of emergency treatment failed to resuscitate him.
The results of an initial investigation show that Kao's suicide was probably related to relationship problems, Chao said.
"It was an isolated case and might be related to relationship problems ... Kao's superiors had recently discovered from his memos and diary that he was troubled by such problems and offered him counseling ... We feel deep regret over the tragedy," Chao said.
Defense Ministry spokesman Luo Shou-he said the ministry has formed a special task force to investigate the case.
"In addition to collaborating with military prosecutors, the special panel will also assist various military units in offering counseling or psychological help to all service members," Luo said.
Military sources said military police guards on duty at the main entrances of major government buildings on the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. watch are usually issued with two magazines, each containing six bullets.
Military police guards receive regular training and military instructors tend to avoid assigning those who have shown emotional problems to guard duty at office buildings, the sources added.
(By Chen Pei-huang and Sofia Wu)