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(LEAD) Apartment arson suspect detained for stabbing five residents to death

All Headlines 11:37 April 17, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 4-5, 10-11)

JINJU, South Korea, April 17 (Yonhap) -- A man in Jinju, southeastern South Korea, set his apartment aflame on Wednesday and attacked fleeing residents with a knife, killing five of them and injuring 13, police said.

The arson and murder suspect, identified only as a 42-year-old man, set fire to his apartment building in Jinju, about 435 kilometers southeast of Seoul, at around 4:29 a.m. before randomly stabbing other residents coming out of their houses to evacuate, police said.

Police and firefighters inspect the scene of a fire and murders at an apartment building in Jinju, southeastern South Korea, on April 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

Five residents, including a 12-year-old girl, were stabbed to death in the apartment stairways, and 13 others were injured, with three of them in critical condition, police said.

Other victims killed in the stabbing spree include a man in his 70s, two women in their 60s and one woman in her 30s. Eight of the injured suffered from smoke inhalation and were taken to hospital.

The suspect was detained on the scene at about 4:50 a.m. after a confrontation with police. During the confrontation, police officers fired blanks, bullets and tasers but the suspect was not hit.

He reportedly told police he committed the crimes out of grievances about his overdue wages.

Police said the suspect was not intoxicated at the time of the crime.

The fire was extinguished by firefighters about 20 minutes later.

The detention of the suspect came after a resident called a 112 police emergency line to report witnessing a man wielding a weapon against residents fleeing from fire.

Residents of an apartment building in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, and firefighters watch the scene of an arson and murders on April 17, 2019. (Yonhap)

Police said the suspect, a jobless man, was refusing to make a statement after being transferred to a police station.

Police said they have secured testimonies from his neighbors and others that the suspect has a history of schizophrenia.

Police said they will conduct further investigation into the suspect's occupational and health records, as well as the motives for his crimes.

ycm@yna.co.kr
(END)

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