A rooftop tower is ablaze after police stormed the four-story building at a redevelopment area in Yongsan, central Seoul, early Tuesday morning. The fire killed at least four squatters and 17 others who had been staging a sit-in inside the building since Monday to oppose a redevelopment project for the area. / Korea Times
Six people including one police officer were found dead and 17 others injured at a construction site in central Seoul after a violent standoff with police, according to Yonhap News Tuesday.
Fire authorities said they discovered five dead bodies inside a four-story building in Yongsan Ward, central Seoul, where some 40 squatters had been staging a sit-in protest since Monday to oppose a redevelopment project of the area.
Police commandos stormed the building around 6:40 a.m. and reached the rooftop using a container lifted by a crane. Some protesters tried to fend them off by throwing Molotov cocktails.
Eyewitnesses said they saw the entire rooftop catch fire. Officials said the blaze may have been caused by the mishandling of paint thinner used in the makeshift explosives.
The incident comes two days after President Lee Myung-bak replaced his police chief, who had been criticized for excessive police crackdowns on protesters.
"We've moved the bodies and the injured to a nearby hospital," an official at the Yongsan fire station was quoted as saying. The blaze was brought under control after some 40 minutes.