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SKorean Officials Probe Clash That Left 6 Potesters Dead

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tekisui Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 08:23 AM
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SKorean Officials Probe Clash That Left 6 Potesters Dead
Source: AP

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) Investigators were trying to determine Wednesday whether police officers used excessive force when they stormed a building in the South Korean capital to end a siege staged by displaced tenants and other protesters.

President Lee Myung-bak expressed regret that six people died Tuesday during clashes between the protesters and the 14 squadrons of riot police and commandos sent into the building in central Seoul.

"It is very heartbreaking and lamentable that lives were lost," Lee said of the incident during a meeting with aides, according to the presidential office.

On Monday, about 40 local merchants, evicted to make way for plans to tear down dilapidated buildings in the Yongsan area of central Seoul, occupied the building to push for better compensation, a tenants' rights association said.

Police said they repeatedly warned the protesters to give up their arsenal of Molotov cocktails and bricks and leave the building. After issuing an ultimatum, authorities said, the commandos backed by 1,400 riot police deployed nearby entered the building to force the merchants out.

However, a fire sparked by the protesters' improvised explosives broke out during the standoff and engulfed the building within minutes, killing six people and injuring 23.

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