DONGDUCHEON, South Korea, March 16 (Yonhap) -- Police said Saturday they have taken a South Korean club owner into custody for allegedly wielding a knife and stabbing two American soldiers, leaving one in critical condition, during an early morning fight near a U.S. Army base.
The 33-year-old male had an altercation with four U.S. soldiers in front of his club in Dongducheon, north of Seoul, at around 6:20 a.m., according to the police.
The verbal fight culminated when one of the soldiers threatened the club manager with a knife and the Korean man snatched it and stabbed the two servicemen, according to officials at Dongducheon Police Station. The U.S. soldiers deny possession of the knife.
Two more Korean citizens were involved in the incident, but they claimed they were only trying to break up the fight, officials said.
The wounded soldiers are now receiving treatment. One has a life-threatening injury to his stomach and was sent to a military hospital at Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul, officials said. The bar owner was hit in the head with a baseball bat and sustained an injury.
Police said they are questioning those involved in the fight to figure out more details.
U.S. officials vowed to cooperate with South Korean authorities to investigate the incident.
"A complete Korean National Police and U.S. law enforcement joint investigation is underway. We trust the investigative process will determine the facts," said a statement released by the public affairs office at the 2nd infantry division in Dongducheon.
Concerns have grown from the South Korean public over crimes committed by U.S. soldiers here, particularly after a group of American soldiers were accused earlier this week of firing a BB gun into a crowded district in Seoul that led to a high-speed police car chase.
About 28,500 American soldiers are stationed in South Korea.