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(LEAD) One U.S. soldier shot by police in car chase

All Headlines 16:36 March 03, 2013

(ATTN: ADDS more details in 4-5 paras, 7th para, US general's visit to police station in 12th para)

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- An American soldier was in stable condition Sunday after being shot by South Korean authorities during a late-night car chase, police said Sunday.

According to Seoul's Yongsan Police Station, police received calls shortly before midnight Saturday that two American soldiers, including the injured, were threatening civilians with an air gun in the multicultural district of Itaewon.

The two U.S. soldiers were approached by Seoul police near Itaewon Station, but they refused to identify themselves and fled in a vehicle, leading to the car chase through the capital city.

When they came to a dead end in southeastern Seoul, police fired off a warning shot and three rounds of bullets as the vehicle tried to rush through police officers despite warnings. The car's driver was hit by one of the bullets and another officer was slightly injured in the process, according to police.

The soldier, only identified by his rank of private first class, is currently receiving treatment on his upper body at a U.S. military hospital in Seoul and is in stable condition, according to officers.

In the process of fleeing, the servicemen damaged other cars, prompting officers from other stations to rush to the scene.

Police said they identified the soldiers with their vehicle license plate number and called them to appear before officers for questioning by Monday.

"So far, no one has been reported shot by the American soldiers and an investigation is currently under way," an officer at Yongsan Police Station said, asking for customary anonymity. "Although one soldier is currently under treatment, we will proceed with the probe soon."

Yongsan officers said they will push to press charges of obstruction of official duties and traffic offenses against them.

The Eighth Army Public Affairs Office said initial results did not show alcohol was involved in the incident, but it did not elaborate on further details.

"Although the details of this incident are unclear, we take all incidents involving U.S. service members in the local community very seriously and will work closely with the Korean National Police as they continue their investigation," Brig. Gen. Chris Gentry, Eighth Army's deputy commanding general, said in a release.

Later in the day, Gentry visited Yongsan Police Station to discuss the matter and apologized about the incident. He said investigations were still underway to figure out what kind of firearms the soldiers were possessing.

About 28,500 American soldiers are stationed in the nation as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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