South Korea vows tough action, moving to quell anger over Halloween crush

SEOUL, Nov 1 (Reuters) – South Korea sought to calm public anger over a Halloween shooting that killed more than 150 people, many of them young, on Tuesday, promising a swift and intensive investigation and calling for tougher new security measures to prevent similar incidents. accidents.

At least 156 people were killed and 151 injured, 29 of them seriously, in the clashes at a crowded Halloween street party on Saturday. Among the dead are at least 26 citizens of 14 countries.

Tens of thousands of revelers – many of them in their teens and twenties and dressed in costumes – flocked to the narrow streets and alleys of the popular Itaewon district for the first time in three years to enjoy an almost unrestricted Halloween celebration.

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The country’s chief security officer, Interior Minister Lee Sang-min, apologized on Tuesday, explained the cause of the incident and vowed to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

“As the minister in charge of public safety, I sincerely apologize for this incident,” Lee said during a live broadcast of the parliamentary session, adding that the government “has an unending responsibility for the safety of our people.”

He came under fire from the public after he said that more police deployment would not have prevented the accident.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon also tearfully apologized at a media briefing and said the city government would use all administrative resources “until every citizen can return to their normal lives.”

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National Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun admitted on Tuesday that crowd control at the scene was “inadequate”, noting that police had received several messages warning of possible accidents on the night of the accident.

“Police will carry out swift and rigorous investigations and investigations into all aspects to clarify the truth of this accident,” Yoon told a news conference.

Prime Minister Han Dak-soo said the ongoing investigation would include whether government agencies’ responses on the ground were adequate. He pointed to the lack of institutional arrangements for crowd control as the cause of the deadly force.

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President Yoon Suk-yeol has declared a week of national mourning, saying there have been too many security incidents in the country. He said a better response is important, including improved crowd control.

“We need to take concrete security measures to manage people, not only on the streets where there are major accidents, but also in places where people gather, such as stadiums and concert venues,” he told a cabinet meeting.

All the victims were identified, and memorial altars were erected at Seoul City Hall and Itaewon District, where citizens paid their respects.

Reporting by Su-hyang Choi and Hyunhee Shin; Written by Jack Kim; Edited by Gerry Doyle and Jacqueline Wong

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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