U.S. forces to stop carrying guns off duty

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U.S. forces to stop carrying guns off duty

The U.S. Forces Korea said Monday it will ban soldiers from carrying guns during off-base duty as part of the efforts to reduce negative sentiment against U.S. soldiers following recent handcuffing of Korean civilians.

The measure comes after seven American military police officers in a U.S. air base in the city of Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Seoul, handcuffed three Korean civilians after a dispute over illegal parking earlier this month.

The incident prompted the top U.S. military commander to offer an apology and military officials of the two countries to discuss measures to prevent American soldiers from exercising power beyond their authority as defined in the Korea-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which governs the legal status of U.S. servicemen stationed here.

“There is a consensus on the necessity to readjust the patrolling guidelines in light of the handcuffing incident,” an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

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