US live-fire drills in South Korea suspended amid complaints
Seoul, Feb 9 (efe-epa).- Seoul authorities on Tuesday temporarily suspended live-fire exercises by the United States military in South Korea due to complaints from residents about excessive noise in the area where they are held each year.
The exercises, involving Apache attack helicopters and which normally goes on until March, was scheduled to start on Tuesday at Suseong range in the city of Pohang, about 270 kilometers (168 miles) southeast of Seoul.
However, the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission decided to suspend the exercises provisionally until a mediation process between military representatives and residents around Suseong is concluded, the South Korean defense ministry said Tuesday.
Some 2,800 residents living near the range had already submitted a formal petition to the commission calling for the cancellation of the maneuvers and the closure of the firing range due to the excessive noise and vibrations they generate.
“As the live-fire drill cannot be suspended for a long time, we expect the commission’s prompt and reasonable mediation,” defense ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan said during a regular press briefing, local news agency Yonhap reported.
The US has a permanent force of around 28,500 troops in South Korea to defend its ally against North Korean aggression, in an arrangement dating back to the end of the Korean War (1950-53), which ended with an armistice but no definitive peace treaty. EFE-EPA