Terror in Tiananmen Square

Chinese soldiers open fire on civilian, pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing on June 4, 1989.
4:29 | 06/02/14

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Transcript for Terror in Tiananmen Square
From ABC news. World news Sunday beer is Sam Donaldson. For now the latest from China. But the Chinese Red Cross estimates of between 4500. People have been killed this weekend. As the army moved in to suppress the student demonstrations. Still the army has not gained complete control. Gary Shepard reports on this weekend's bloody action in Beijing. It was the swift and terrible ending to the Beijing spring of 1989. Hundreds of thousands of students and workers and other local Chinese citizens. Who through their long demonstration for democracy. Had been seeking a peaceful dialogue with the leaders of this vast nation. Received instead the harshest of responses to their demands for reform and freedom. Last night an estimated 30000. Chinese army troops. Were sent into the capital to crush what the government called a small band of hooligans and gangsters. Counter revolutionaries. The government called them who were attempting to overthrow the Communist regime that has ruled this country for the past forty years. It is difficult not to use the word massacre to describe what happened. The military is moving in armored vehicles. Smashed through barricades that have been put up by the protesters. And advanced relentlessly toward Tiananmen square. Where for the past several weeks. Students have been staging a sit in demanding the resignation of hardline Premier -- -- And an end to widespread corruption inside the Chinese Government. They fired automatic weapons into crowds of citizens who for the most part. Could fight back with nothing more than rocks and bottles. They fired their weapons even as the mobs were chanting slogans like you are the People's Liberation Army and we are the people. They fired their weapons into groups of demonstrators that sometimes numbered in the tens of thousands. There has been no official announcement of casualties. Student leaders claim they are staggering. And that the government is attempting to cremate the bodies as quickly as possible so the -- number of fatalities will never be you know. Some lost their lives -- armored personnel carriers and troop trucks simply ran over them. Others were gunned down as they tried to resist the savage show of force. Finally the troops reach their objective and in a last ditch effort demonstrators tossed firebombs onto the tanks and armored personnel carriers. As they rolled into Tiananmen square. But it didn't take long before the Chinese army had forced thousands of demonstrators to leave their encampment. And fall back toward the Beijing hotel a short distance away. Not all of them were able to escape. Bodies of demonstrators were scattered throughout the 100 acres where and wounded were carried away to get them out of the line of fire. The military force now holding John Inman -- numbers several thousand. Including dozens of tanks and other vehicles which have been lined up across -- on boulevard. Even late this morning the -- survivors were still attempting to counter attack. Common during an ambulance setting it on fire and aiming at directly of soldiers who were taken up defensive positions down the street. Once again the army opened fire on the demonstrators. And before it was over at least three more civilians have been killed. Government TV later showed soldiers toppling the goddess of democracy statue put up by the students less than a week ago. It was declared a great victory against the counter revolutionaries. -- the announcers reading the news were both wearing black. Today thousands of curious residents of this city were out on the streets riding past Tiananmen square and other areas. We're fighting had taken place. There were plenty of reminders of the desperate struggle. There is no question that the pro democracy movement in this country has been dealt a stunning setback. By the brutal military assault here this weekend and it may be a long time before it recovers. But the voices of those who died calling for freedom and liberty are likely to be remembered long after the sounds of the gunfire that attempted to silence them have faded away. Gary Shepard ABC news Beijing.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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