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South Korean Police Surround Campuses as Clashes Continue

May 17, 1987|Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — Riot police backed by armored cars surrounded universities in a major show of strength Saturday as students clashed with police in Seoul and four other cities.

The national police force was on top alert across the country and reinforcements were trucked in from rural areas. Thousands of riot policemen in combat uniforms were posted at the gates of universities and colleges after five days of violent protests.

Hundreds of students at two Seoul universities and schools in the provincial cities of Chonju, Taegu, Kongju and Chungju battled police, hurling firebombs and rocks at riot squads who fired tear gas to disperse them.

"Down with the military dictatorship!" the students yelled. "Down with the violent police!"

At Seoul National University on the outskirts of the city, about 1,000 students fought a running two-hour battle with hundreds of riot police, using gasoline bombs and stones against tear gas. At least three policemen were hurt.

Thousands of riot police were deployed in provincial cities, including Kwangju, 170 miles south of Seoul. The city was the scene of a bloody anti-government uprising in 1980 in which at least 194 people were killed. A formal memorial service for the victims is scheduled for Monday. Students across the country have been demonstrating to mark the anniversary.

A wave of protests has hit South Korea since President Chun Doo Hwan announced April 13 that he was calling off talks with the opposition on its demands for a direct vote instead of the existing electoral college system in presidential elections expected at the end of the year.

The opposition says the present system favors those in power.

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