Shell from U.S. drill damages civilian residence

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Shell from U.S. drill damages civilian residence


An artillery shell that strayed from a U.S. military shooting range on Saturday in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, landed on the roof of a civilian residence, leaving a hole 40 centimeters (16 inches) wide.

No casualties were reported, although two people, a 75-year-old man surnamed Kim and his wife, were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for shock.

The practice ammunition is suspected to have been shot from the Rodriguez Firing Range during a live-fire drill, before it fell on the concrete roof over the bedroom at around 3:15 p.m. At that time, Kim and his wife were in the living room.

The shell bounced off the roof and was found in a field 70 to 80 meters (77 to 87 yards) away from the house by police officers and explosive ordnance disposal specialists, who arrived at the scene soon after receiving a call from Kim.

Upon hearing the news, the U.S. military immediately ceased all firing drills at the shooting range, located some 46 kilometers north of Seoul and 4 kilometers from the house, and launched an investigation into what caused the incident.

One possibility is that the shell initially ricocheted off a rock before bouncing off the house.

The Rodriguez Firing Range is Asia’s largest training field for the U.S. military, at around 13 million square meters (3,267 acres), and is currently occupied by American soldiers participating in the Foal Eagle exercise, part of annual joint military drills between the United States and South Korea that run through April.

Saturday’s incident is one of a number of cases in which local residents have been unwitting victims to U.S. military drills gone awry, which have prompted activists to call for their cessation around civilian territory.

On March 22, the same type of artillery shell strayed from the firing range and fell into a pine field. And last October, a local civilian office near the training area was hit by a stray bullet that penetrated the ceiling and a window. No casualties were reported in either case.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]



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