(4th LD) Ruling party chief attacked with hammer during campaigning
(ATTN: UPDATES with Yoon Suk-yeol's comments in last 2 paras)
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) -- A YouTuber in his 70s attacked ruling Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Song Young-gil with a hammer during campaigning in Seoul on Monday, causing him injuries requiring stitches in the head, party officials said.
Song was campaigning in Seoul's Sinchon area for Wednesday's presidential election when the assailant came up to him from behind and struck him in the head several times with a hammer wrapped in a black plastic bag, video footage showed.
Song was rushed to a nearby hospital with bleeding from his head and received stitches, DP officials said.
The assailant was immediately restrained by people at the scene and taken into police custody.
He was identified as a 70-year-old YouTuber who was filming with his phone before attacking Song and appeared to have followed the chairman on the campaign trail since last month in videos uploaded to YouTube.
Police said they are questioning the suspect on charges of violating the election law and assault.
According to an eyewitness, the man shouted at the scene that he opposes South Korea-U.S. military exercises and cannot stand to leave behind such a world to the youth.
The DP presidential campaign committee said in a statement it "strongly condemns" the attack as a "serious threat to democracy."
DP presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung spoke to Song by phone after hearing the news while campaigning in the southeastern city of Busan, the committee said.
The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) and its candidate Yoon Suk-yeol also denounced the attack as a threat to democracy and wished for Song's quick recovery.
"Violent acts cannot be tolerated for any reason," Lee Yang-soo, chief spokesperson of the PPP campaign committee, said in a statement. "The People Power Party and candidate Yoon Suk-yeol are firmly opposed to any violent acts that threaten democracy."
Yoon also said any violence hindering elections cannot be justified.
"I strongly call upon the government to ensure safety so that no more unsavory incidents will happen again during the remainder of the campaign," Yoon said on Facebook. "I once again wish for Chairman Song's speedy recovery, and the safety of all candidates and campaign workers."
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