S. Koreans injured in blocking construction equipment toward THAAD site

SEOUL -- South Korean residents were injured by police early Thursday when they tried in vain to block the entrance of construction equipment into the deployment site for the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system.

Two payloaders, which were driven by soldiers of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), attempted to enter the golf course in southeast South Korea at about 6:25 a.m. local time, according to the association that is composed of residents and civic group activists to prevent the deployment of the U.S. missile shield.

The golf course is located in the northern part of Seongju county, South Gyeongsang province, where Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery. The payloader is a heavy construction machine used to flatten or excavate soil.

Tens of residents and peace activists thwarted the entrance attempt for about 30 minutes, but they were violently shoved and thrust by hundreds of police officers, allowing the payloaders to be driven inside the golf course.

During the tussle, two residents were wounded and taken to a nearby hospital.

Residents in the Soseongri village, the northern town of the Seongju county, are mostly those in their 70s and 80s. The village has a population of about 160.

At about noon, police officers attempted to shove and thrust the residents to help other equipment enter inside the THAAD site, but the second attempt was unsuccessful.

In the second tussle, two residents were hauled in by police.

Last week, the South Korean military transported heavy equipment by helicopter to the THAAD site as residents have stood sentry alongside the entrance road to the golf course.

The anti-THAAD association said in a statement that the ongoing push for THAAD deployment is clearly illegal as the launch of construction can come only after the end of environmental assessments and the negotiation on the land provision deal between South Korean authorities and the USFK.

The hurried push for the THAAD installation has been under fire as it failed to follow appropriate procedures such as a parliamentary approval and public discussions.

Two mobile launchers and part of THAAD elements were delivered in early March to a U.S. military base in South Korea. South Korea's military has recently said it would be physically impossible to complete the THAAD deployment before the end of presidential election scheduled for May 9.

[ Editor: zyq ]


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