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CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Camp Humphreys officials have installed six passageways to let South Korean riot police dash in and out of the base during violent protest rallies.

Base officials discussed the new “egress points” at a town-hall meeting Tuesday night.

Korean National Police officers inside the base had to cut through the perimeter fence to rescue several injured officers during a July 10 demonstration in which police and protesters clashed fiercely.

Earlier this week, the protest group staging the July rally announced plans to hold further rallies this year at and near Camp Humphreys in Pyongtaek.

Protesters want the U.S. military to leave South Korea, and oppose a U.S.-South Korean plan to triple Camp Humphreys’ size. The U.S. military plans to turn Camp Humphreys into its main U.S. base on the peninsula by 2008.

Installing the egress points was one of numerous items Camp Humphreys officials outlined at the quarterly town-hall meeting at the base community activities center.

About 120 people, including key base officials, active-duty soldiers, civilian employees and family members, attended the wide-ranging, three-hour session.

Mention of the egress points came as Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr., Area III Support Activity commander, spoke about how recent demonstrations might affect the base’s routine. A possible effect is short-term inconvenience were officials to seal off the base temporarily for security reasons, he said.

Taliento took the audience through a color slide presentation of the July 10 demonstration in which about 7,000 protesters and 10,000 KNP officers faced off.

One photo showed the hole KNP officers cut in the fence to retrieve the injured officers.

“This is what prompted the installation of our emergency egress points,” Taliento said.

Workers finished installing the passageways last weekend, Clarence F. Slawson, Taliento’s deputy, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

“It’s … like a gate, large enough for pedestrians to go through,” Slawson said. “They were installed just to allow U.S. and Korean National Police forces … emergency or immediate access” to respond to local demonstrations.

Taliento praised the KNP for assembling the 10,000 riot- equipped officers at the base on July 10.

“Command and control of 10,000 is no small task,” he said. “All of us have to give some thanks. … They were making it happen.”

Protesters threw steel pipes and rocks at police, reportedly injuring up to 60. Demonstrators, accusing police of using excessive force, later said many of their number also were injured.

Camp Humphreys again was the scene of a demonstration on Monday. About 1,100 South Korean university students called for U.S. forces to leave and said they oppose expanding the camp.

The Pan National Solution Committee Against Expansion of U.S. Troops in Pyongtaek Area, which staged the July 10 demonstration, said it plans further rallies on Sept. 3, Oct. 20-23 and Dec. 11.

The next town-hall meeting is set for Oct. 18.


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