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[Editorial] Weapons Robbery Puts Nation on Alert

Posted December. 08, 2007 03:05,   


Korea remains on high security alert two days after a man killed a soldier and stole his weapons, including a rifle, ammunition and grenades on Ganghwa Island, 60 km west of Seoul.

The suspect was audacious enough to drive his jeep into two Marines walking back to their base on Thursday night, an incident which left one of the Marines dead.

A massive manhunt involving military and police personnel is under way in the outskirts of Seoul. The people are worried over the incident which took place at a critical juncture, especially when the presidential election is just about ten days away.

It would plunge the whole nation into shock if the weapons robbery incident turns out to be a politically motivated scheme targeting a certain presidential candidate or an act committed by the North to trigger social insecurity.

Candidate Lee Myung-bak of the opposition Grand National Party sensitively responded to the incident to the extent that he refrained from public campaigning on the street.

It is reported that other political parties have also upped their guard around their presidential candidates for possible terror attacks. Earlier in the week, candidates Lee Myung-bak and Lee Hoi-chang were humiliated when a demonstrator splattered them with eggs.

Police suspect that the man at large seemed to be familiar with soldiers` duty times and the military checkpoint located in a remote place. The getaway car`s license plate was captured on a CCTV camera and the suspected vehicle was found burned without a license plate. The suspect seems to be making very careful plans to carry out another crime.

In order to avoid possible terror attacks against presidential candidates at this crucial time just ahead of the presidential election, President Roh should show his will to secure the election in a peaceful manner. There is nothing more important for the president in his final term but to maintain public affairs in a stable way.

By far, the most important thing to do as the outgoing president is to assure that every possible preparatory security measure is taken for the election, including maintaining impartial management, providing protection for candidates, keeping security and order, and removing all unnecessary worries concerning the election.

Although the military held an emergency meeting to address this issue, the government should not leave the matter in the hands of the military alone. The president should convene an emergency meeting of state affairs to assure the related agencies to remain on alert. A number of various incidents occur during election season because the government and society are likely to lose discipline at the time. The presidential office should set an example.