03 August 2023

Man rams car on to pavement before stabbing people in shopping centre

03 August 2023

At least 14 people have been injured in South Korea after a man rammed a car on to a pavement and then stepped out of the vehicle and began stabbing pedestrians inside a nearby shopping centre in the city of Seongnam.

At least five people were hurt by the car, and nine others were stabbed in the attacks that occurred in a crowded leisure district near an underground train station in the city, according to Yoon Sung-hyun, an official from the southern Gyeonggi provincial police department.

Authorities arrested a suspect in his 20s at the scene and were questioning him. Police did not identify the man or offer any immediate information about a potential motive.

The head of the National Police Agency described the attack as “virtually an act of terrorism”.

An official at Gyeonggi’s provincial fire department, Ha Dong-geun, said at least two of the wounded were admitted to hospital in a serious condition.

Photos from the scene showed forensic units examining the halls of the AK Plaza, where the stabbings took place. A white Kia car with a broken front window and ruptured front tire could be seen on a pavement near the train station.

South Korea’s Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper published a video on its website that it said was sent by a witness. The footage showed a man wearing sunglasses and a black hoodie walking up the shopping centre’s escalator with an object in his hand.

A witness named Hwang Hee-woon told YTN television that he “heard a sound from the first floor that seemed like a scream, so customers and shop workers were gathering on the rails of the second-floor near the escalator to see what was happening below”.

“Suddenly, someone told us the person who committed the crime was coming up to the second floor, so we ran away in panic,” he said. He ended up hiding inside a refrigerated storage room with some shopping centre employees.

Last month, a knife-wielding man stabbed at least four pedestrians on a street in the capital, Seoul, killing one person.

The National Police Agency held an online meeting on Thursday with regional police chiefs to discuss ways to deal with stabbings and other attacks against random targets.

During the meeting, National Police Agency Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun made the comment about terrorism. Officials discussed increasing night-time patrols in leisure districts and other crowded areas and strengthening security camera surveillance, according to the agency.

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