Almost 40 S. Korean police hurt in anti-FTA protest
SEOUL – Almost 40 South Korean policemen were injured when a street protest against a free trade agreement with the United States turned violent, police said Sunday.
Some of about 2,200 people staging the rally punched and kicked officers during the protest in central Seoul’s Gwanghwamun district Saturday evening, a spokesman for the National Police Agency said.
Among those hurt was a district police chief. Most of the injuries were minor. Police deployed some 8,000 officers along with dozens of police buses to restrict access to the protest site.
There have been near-nightly demonstrations in central Seoul since the ruling party last Tuesday pushed the long-delayed trade deal through parliament against opposition protests.
One opposition MP set off a tear gas canister to try to halt proceedings.
Opponents of the free trade agreement say it unduly favours the United States and will hit farmers and small businesses. Supporters say it is crucial for South Korea’s export-dominated economy and will boost jobs and growth.
The deal “should be nullified as it will eat into the Korean economy, only to fatten US capital”, protesters shouted Saturday, according to Yonhap news agency.
North Korea’s main newspaper Sunday described the railroading of the trade pact as “a despicable action intended to maintain power by selling off the dignity and interests of the nation to curry favour with the US master”.
The US bases 28,500 troops in the South to guard against any attack by the North.
The National Police Agency, in a statement quoted by Yonhap, said attackers would be tracked down and punished along with protest organizers.
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