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SEOUL — A South Korean prosecutor is asking for jail terms for a dozen student activists who charged into a U.S. Army training range last month, jumped on tanks and burned an American flag.

Chief prosecutor Kwon Young-bin said Monday he requested one- to three-year terms for members of Bomchonghakryon, a group opposed to the U.S. military presence in South Korea. Sentencing is 10 a.m. Oct. 10 in Seoul District Court, Kwon said.

On Aug. 7, demonstrators illegally entered Rodriguez Range, a training range in Pochon about 30 miles northeast of Seoul. Photographs showed protesters crawling on tanks and scuffling with U.S. soldiers over an American flag.

The protests coincided with the first demonstration of the Army’s Stryker armored personnel carrier, brought here from Fort Lewis, Wash., for training. The Stryker unit trained in South Korea for about a week before returning to the States.

South Korean media said the protest was one in a series staged by Hanchongryon, an illegal group mostly comprising younger Korean students who demonstrate against the U.S. military. Bamchonghakryon is loosely affiliated with Hanchongryon, officials have said.

Hanchongryon was banned for its sympathy toward North Korea. South Korea’s government had considered legalizing it but legalization talks ceased after after South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun condemned the protests, amid sour reactions to the group’s tactics.

Protesters threw bottles of red and yellow paint Aug. 7 at the Far East District Compound, a small Army Corps of Engineers post in Tongdaemun; six were arrested.

In June, 14 Hanchongryon members were arrested after they leaped a low base wall near the Korean War Memorial and museum.

In other incidents this summer, protesters climbed walls and vandalized the base. Following the attacks, South Korean riot police beefed up their presence around U.S. installations. Days later, U.S. Forces Korea announced a “heightened state of security.”

Choe Song-won contributed to this report.


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