Ten U.S. Air Force personnel were hurt and 22 military vehicles damaged when villagers armed with clubs and rocks attacked a bombing range to demand the facility be closed, officials said Tuesday.
Up to 100 villagers stormed the Kooni range south of Seoul late Monday to demand an end to aircraft bombing practice at the range, said Sgt. Will Baker, an Air Force spokesman in Seoul.Military guards struggled with at-tackers who scaled fences and attacked them with clubs and rocks, he said.
The 10 injured Air Force men were cut or bruised by rocks and flying glass, and a Korean civilian worker was beaten by the attackers, Air Force officials said. Most of the injuries were minor and one airman was briefly hospitalized for injuries, they said.
The Air Force staff was ordered to retreat to a dormitory after one of the attackers pulled a knife, Baker said. The attackers then hurled rocks through windows at the Air Force personnel, he said.
Villagers say the range plays havoc with their lives, preventing them from working in fields during bombing practice, and they have been demanding the facility be closed. The villagers have attacked the range several times in recent months, but Monday's incident appeared to be the most serious.
They damaged and overturned trucks and other vehicles and ransacked and looted buildings in the range's administration block, said Baker.
A team of 24 U.S. Air Force security police was airlifted to the range by helicopter from Osan Air Force Base to protect the range personnel, officials said. But the security police did not clash with the villagers, they said.
South Korean riot police reached the range about two hours after the attack began and about 450 troopers drove the villagers out after about an hour, police officials said.