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Fugitive killer holds envoy's family in siege

Taiwan's most-wanted fugitive took a South African diplomat and his family hostage yesterday and confessed to a string of killings in telephone interviews aired live on Taiwan television.

Chen Chin-hsing burst into the suburban Taipei home of Mac Alexander, a military attache, in the evening, shooting and wounding the diplomat and his 22-year-old daughter. He allowed the two to leave but held the diplomat's wife, their 12-year-old daughter and a friend's infant at gunpoint.

"I deserve to die," Chen told Taiwan television by telephone as the baby cooed, cried and screamed. At dawn today, the young daughter emerged briefly with a message to police but insisted on returning to her mother, state media said.

Police said Chen demanded safe passage out of Taiwan with his wife but Chen dismissed this, telling a succession of television interviewers through the night that he was prepared to die.

"Will you kill yourself?" one reporter asked bluntly. "Yes." Chen replied. "That's what I'm here for." Chen warned hundreds of armed police outside not to storm the apartment building. "Don't come in or I will get nervous," he said.

As Alexander and his daughter were brought to safety he yelled: "My wife and my children are in there! Just get my wife and children out of there."

His daughter, the more seriously wounded with gunshots to the leg and back, was sobbing.

Chen admitted his involvement in the killing of a Taiwan actress's teenage daughter in April, but said her death was an accident. He also confessed to his involvement in killing last month of a plastic surgeon, his wife and a nurse.

- Reuters