S. Korean Students Firebomb
US Base In Protest


SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean student protesters threw firebombs at a U.S. military base in Seoul on Monday in a fresh protest against the acquittal last week of two U.S. soldiers involved in an accident that killed two girls.
Some 20 students tossed 15 home-made Molotov cocktails at Camp Gray, a small storage facility several kilometers (miles) from the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) headquarters, local police and U.S. military officials said.
In separate U.S. court-martial trials last week, the driver and navigator of a U.S. armored vehicle were found not guilty of negligent homicide in a June accident in which two 13-year-old schoolgirls were crushed while walking on a village road.
The emotive case was tried as South Korea and the United States were struggling to maintain a united stance in dealing with North Korea's nuclear arms program, which was revealed last month and has put a damper on improving North-South ties.
The acquittals angered local activists and sparked anti-U.S. rallies by opponents of the presence of 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea. On Saturday, 500 people demonstrated outside the USFK headquarters in central Seoul.
The firebomb attacks early on Monday morning ignited a small fire near the gate of Camp Gray. The fire was quickly extinguished without causing damage or injuries, U.S. Eighth Army spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan said.
The students spread leaflets describing themselves as Korean Students Seeking Punishment for the Murderous American Soldiers, Boylan said.
The United States maintains nearly 100 military installations in South Korea as a deterrent against the communist North.
The United States and South Korea are formal military allies. But pollution, noise and traffic from the U.S. bases and occasional crimes by American troops have been a source of friction with communities near U.S. facilities.
Protesters have insisted the soldiers be tried in South Korean courts, opposing a bilateral treaty granting the U.S. military jurisdiction in cases involving soldiers on duty.
South Korea's main political parties have seized upon the verdicts to demand revision of an agreement on the treaty governing the legal status of U.S. troops in South Korea.
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