SEOUL-A man in a South Korean commuter town rammed his car into passers-by on Thursday then got out and stabbed some, killing one person and injuring another 12, police and media said. The unexplained attack in the commuter town of Seongnam near the capital Seoul came days after another rare stabbing attack which killed one person and wounded three others.
Police said Thursday’s assailant was arrested after apparently hitting people randomly. Media reports described him as a man in his 20s with a delivery job and suffering from some mental health issues. The attack occurred near Seohyeon station, an area about 20 km (12 miles) from Seoul that has a large department store and other shops and where many commuters live. Police said 12 people were in hospital - nine stabbed and four hit by the car. A man in his 60s died, Newsis news agency reported.
At the taped-off scene, police stood guard and blood stains could be seen on the floor. Police Commissioner General Yoon Hee-keun warned South Koreans to be on guard for such attacks and urged officials to be vigilant and look out for copycat crimes.
The head of the National Police Agency described the attack as “virtually an act of terrorism.” An official at Gyeonggi’s provincial fire department, Ha Dong-geun, said at least two of the wounded were hospitalized in serious condition. Photos from the scene showed forensic units examining the halls of the AK Plaza, where the stabbings took place. A white Kia hatchback with a broken front window and ruptured front tire could be seen on a sidewalk near the subway station. South Korea’s Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper published a video on its website that it said was sent by a witness. The footage showed a man wearing sunglasses and a black hoodie walking up the mall’s escalator with an object in his hand. A witness named Hwang Hee-woon told YTN television that he “heard a sound from the first floor that seemed like a scream, so customers and shop workers were gathering on the rails of the second-floor near the escalator to see what was happening below.” “Suddenly, someone told us the person who committed the crime was coming up to the second floor, so we ran away in panic,” he said. He ended up hiding inside a refrigerated storage room with some mall employees.
Last month, a knife-wielding man stabbed at least four pedestrians on a street in the capital, Seoul, killing one person. The National Police Agency held an online meeting Thursday with regional police chiefs to discuss ways to deal with stabbings and other attacks against random targets. During the meeting, National Police Agency Commissioner Gen. Yoon Hee-keun made the comment about terrorism. Officials discussed increasing nighttime patrols in leisure districts and other crowded areas and strengthening security camera surveillance, according to the agency.