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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Activists who oppose the expansion of Camp Humphreys called off the four-day rally they had planned to start Saturday outside the post’s main gate, authorities said Friday.

Local merchants who support the Camp Humphreys expansion then canceled a counterprotest they had scheduled for Saturday, averting a potentially violent clash between the two groups.

Camp Humphreys is in the Anjung-ri section of Pyeongtaek city that includes the commercial district of bars, restaurants and shops frequented by U.S. servicemembers.

The anti-U.S. military rallies had been planned by a group of local residents protesting the South Korean government’s efforts to evict them from farmland near Camp Humphreys.

The government last year assumed legal control of large tracts near Camp Humphreys to enable the U.S. military to triple the base’s size and turn it into its main installation in South Korea by 2008.

South Korean political activists who have been helping organize residents in the anti-expansion movement could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Had the protests gone as scheduled, a confrontation between the two sides could have sparked “big trouble,” said Kim Ki-ho, president of the Anjung-ri Merchants’ Association.

The merchants are angry with the demonstrators because recent anti-expansion protests led Camp Humphreys officials to place Anjung-ri off-limits temporarily to U.S. servicemembers, a restriction they have since lifted.

Such restrictions cut into the thriving business the local bar and restaurant district does with servicemember clientele, Kim said.

Accordingly, he said, merchants see the rallies as harmful to local business.

“So merchants members are very angry about that,” Kim said.

The merchants want the protesters to hold their rallies outside key South Korean government and U.S. military offices in Seoul, Kim said.

At Camp Humphreys, officials said Friday the following travel restrictions placed on U.S. military members remained in effect until further notice.

Camp Humphreys travel restrictions

The following travel restrictions are in effect for U.S. military members at Camp Humphreys until further notice.

The villages of and routes to:

Daechu-riBonjong-riWonjong-riNae-riDodu-riHamjeong 1-riHamjeong 2-riDuejeong-ri.The ban does not apply to personnel entering those areas on their way to or from work.

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