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(2nd LD) Police trying to break up sit-in by anti-THAAD protesters

2018/04/23 09:46

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(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 1-4; ADDS photo)

SEONGJU/SEOUL, South Korea, April 23 (Yonhap) -- Riot police were removing protesters Monday from a bridge leading to the base of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system in southeastern South Korea, sparking clashes that left about a dozen people injured.

About 200 residents and activists have been occupying the Jinbat bridge in a sit-in aimed at blocking construction vehicles from entering the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense base in Seongju, some 300 km southeast of Seoul.

About 3,000 riot police were mobilized to break up the sit-in. Scuffles and shoving matches broke out as police moved in, and two people were taken to a hospital with injuries, while around 10 others suffered scratches.

As of 9:10 a.m., some 170 people were hauled away, and some 20-30 protesters remained in a standoff.

Riot police break up a sit-in by anti-THAAD protesters in Seongju, some 215 km southeast of Seoul, on April 23, 2018. (Yonhap) Riot police break up a sit-in by anti-THAAD protesters in Seongju, some 215 km southeast of Seoul, on April 23, 2018. (Yonhap)

Protesters resisted by inserting their arms into plastic pipes in an attempt to tie themselves together to make it difficult for police to carry them away. They also chanted slogans such as "Out with violent police," blasting the police for using force.

"It is the defense ministry that deteriorated the situation like this," Kang Hyun-woo, a leader of the protesters, said. "Responsibility for all forthcoming consequences rests with the defense ministry that pushed unreasonably ahead with the THAAD base construction."

   Police placed air mattresses under the bridge in case of a fall during the clash.

In Seoul, the defense ministry said it's starting to transport construction materials, equipment and personnel into the U.S. missile defense base, despite protests by local residents and activists.

It cited the urgency of building amenities and other facilities to improve the living conditions of more than 400 South Korean and U.S. troops stationed at the THAAD base in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province.

"We have decided to begin the transport of personnel, materials and equipment necessary for construction today in cooperation with police," the Ministry of National Defense said in a press release.

Protesters resist police by putting their arms into plastic pipes in an attempt to tie themselves together during a sit-in in Seongju, some 300 km southeast of Seoul, on April 23, 2018. (Yonhap) Protesters resist police by putting their arms into plastic pipes in an attempt to tie themselves together during a sit-in in Seongju, some 300 km southeast of Seoul, on April 23, 2018. (Yonhap)

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