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Wounded U.S. soldier asks police to delay questioning over car chase
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean police said Monday U.S. military officials have asked them to delay questioning of an American soldier who was shot and wounded in a car chase as he is currently under treatment.

   The 23-year-old private first class, who serves in the 8th U.S. Army at Yongsan Garrison, was shot in the shoulder after midnight on Saturday during a car chase through the capital city.

   The soldier refused to cooperate with police officers who were dispatched to Itaewon subway station after receiving calls that American soldiers were threatening civilians with an air rifle, and fled in a vehicle along with a U.S. Army staff sergeant and his wife, officials at Yongsan Police Station said.

  
Route of car chase between U.S. soldier and South Korean police after midnight on March 3, 2013. (Yonhap file photo)


According to police, the soldier tried to run over a police officer on a dead-end street, prompting him to fire a warning shot and three shots at the car. The three eventually fled to the U.S. base.

   The wounded driver is now currently under treatment in a military hospital and was said to be in a stable condition. A police officer and two civilians suffered minor injuries and four cars were damaged in the high-speed escapee, officials said.

   The vehicle used in the car chase was discovered by police near the Yongsan base earlier in the day, which was sent to a forensic team for investigation.

   "U.S. military officials told us the private first class is not currently available for questioning because he is being hospitalized and taking painkillers," a police officer said, asking for customary anonymity. "We are in talks with U.S. military officials on when and how to proceed with the investigation."

   To speed up the process, officials said they could visit the military hospital on the base to question the soldier.

   Police said they plan to seek charges of obstruction of official duties and traffic violations against the soldier.

   Later in the day, the 26-year-old staff sergeant and his wife, who were riding in the same car, will appear before police as witnesses, officials said.

   About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter North Korea, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

   ejkim@yna.co.kr
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