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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The order at Kunsan Air Base that kept troops restricted to base for five days was to be lifted Saturday morning, a base spokesman said Friday night.

Wing spokesman Capt. James P. Lage said 8th Fighter Wing commander Col. Jeffrey Lofgren had decided the restriction would end at 5 a.m. Saturday.

Lofgren ordered the restriction Monday after two airmen and a civilian employed at the base allegedly choked and punched a local cab driver and tried to steal his car in Kunsan city.

The restriction affected nearly all of the 2,000 airmen at the base, as well as about 150 Kunsan-based soldiers of the Army’s 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

The driver, 48-year-old Lee Ki-jung, remained in Kunsan Medical Center on Friday for treatment of what he has said are head and knee injuries, facial bruises and nerve damage.

South Korean police Friday said they’ve begun questioning the civilian and plan to question the airmen, both of whom are police officers with Kunsan’s 8th Security Forces Squadron.

The two airmen are in custody on the base and have been relieved of normal police duties pending outcome of the case. They have not been jailed.

On Thursday, Lofgren told Stars and Stripes the restriction was aimed at impressing upon the base’s servicemembers that misconduct would not be tolerated and that behavior toward members of the South Korean community must be “above reproach.”

“We’re looking to see, ‘Are they getting it?’” he said in a Thursday interview.

Only then, he said, would it be lifted.

Throughout the restriction period, Lofgren had allowed troops to take part in regularly scheduled off-base activities, including those in which servicemember volunteers teach English.

Those authorized for leave or temporary duty had also been allowed to leave the base.


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