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SEOUL — A U.S. soldier remained in South Korean police custody in connection with a Sunday morning assault on a Korean woman, U.S. Forces Korea officials confirmed Monday evening.

According to local news reports, the soldier is suspected of beating and raping a 67-year-old woman.

A U.S. Forces Korea spokesman confirmed Monday that an 8th U.S. Army soldier was apprehended for “an assault” and remained in Korean custody.

“What type of assault it was … don’t have that information,” said USFK spokesman Dave Oten.

According to the Status of Forces Agreement between South Korea and the United States, South Korea can retain custody of U.S. troops suspected but not indicted in serious cases such as murder or rape, according statements on the USFK Web site.

Police patrolling Seoul’s Mapo district apprehended the soldier early Sunday when they responded to the woman’s screams, according to media reports.

Police on Sunday questioned the soldier, identified in news reports only by the initial “G.”

The woman was treated for her injuries at a local hospital, according to the reports.

The news prompted strongly worded statements from U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell and acting 8th Army commander Maj. Gen. John Morgan.

“I am shocked and horrified at the egregious nature of this crime, and I am extremely upset by this senseless act against an elderly woman,” according to Bell. “On behalf of USFK I want to express my personal apologies for the great suffering caused her and to the Korean people for this terrible incident.”

Bell ordered subordinate military commanders on the peninsula to review procedures for granting passes and controlling their troops during off-duty hours with the “intention of eliminating similar acts in the future,” according to his statement.

“This assault diminishes all of us, and this vicious act is an affront to all Americans and especially those serving here who are sworn to protect this land,” Bell said. “We stand ready to aid the woman and her family in this time of great sorrow.”

According to Morgan’s statement, a joint investigation is ongoing and the U.S. military is “cooperating fully with Korean authorities to see that the individual responsible for this crime is brought to justice.”

“While no words can lessen the anguish of the victim or her family, I deeply regret and personally apologize for this terrible incident that has resulted in grave injury to a Korean civilian,” Morgan said.


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