Sunday, September 4, 2011

South Koreans clash with police over base

Protesters clash with police in South Korea during a rally against the construction of a new naval base on Jeju Island, September 2, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Protesters in South Korea have clashed with the country's riot police over the construction of a new naval base on the South Korean island of Jeju which will be open to US forces.

The protesters, who have occupied the site since June in order to prevent the construction, were joined by 300 activists and opposition party members who flew to the island, AFP reported.

Protesters allege that South Korea has bowed to pressure from the United States, which they say is eager to establish a military presence near China. Washington currently has nearly 28,500 troops in South Korea.

Damage to the environment is a concern of the protesters over the construction of the naval base as is the possibility of disputes with China over the American presence.

Police dispersed about 130 people on Friday and arrested 38 others. Protesters scuffled with the police, but no serious violence was reported.

After the police dispersed the crowd, engineers finished building a perimeter fence surrounding the construction site.

Local military officials say the USD 970-million project is vital for South Korea's national security.

Once completed in 2014, the base will host some 20 warships, including submarines.

Seoul started construction of the naval base in January near a village on the resort island's southern coast facing the South China Sea.

To date, about 14 percent of the construction has been completed.

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