Riot Police Disperse Protesters in Central Pusan With AM-SKorea-Police
PUSAN, South Korea (AP) _ Riot police firing tear gas Sunday dispersed several hundred protesters trying to advance on Somyon Circle, a rallying point used by anti-government demonstrators during the past several days.
It was the 11th consecutive day that this city, like others around the country, had been hit by violent demonstrations. The demonstrations began June 10 after opposition leaders called for a nationwide resistance movement against the government of President Chun Doo-hwan.
The protests themselves were largely peaceful and smaller in scale than in recent days. But police, using an aggressive new strategy, took the offensive and charged the demonstrators from all sides. Police also arrested many of the 2,000 onlookers.
Plainclothes officers, who apparently mingled in the crowd of bystanders, raced down side streets, grabbing, punching and kicking demonstrators and arresting them.
In the past, police did not arrest demonstrators in large numbers.
There were no official arrest or injury figures, but witnesses reported several hundred people were seen taken away by police. Some were beaten as they were pushed onto police buses.
Police dragged some protesters by their hair and forced them into waiting buses. Some used martial arts kicks against curious onlookers as well as on emonstrators.
In one clash, police cornered scores of demonstrators who tried to escape by slipping into a building. Police brought them out one by one and forced them to crouch down on the pavement until buses arrived to collect them.
At least half a dozen busloads of people were taken away.
Unlike previous days, there was no sign of stone throwing by the protesters.
In another section of the city, a sit-in by about 200 students at a Roman Catholic center went into its sixth day. Police forces surrounding the center withdrew one day after the seizure, but the students refused to end the protest.