Parking lot rumble in Gimhae leads to 26 arrests

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Parking lot rumble in Gimhae leads to 26 arrests

A CCTV image from a parking lot in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, last Saturday night, released by police, shows some 30 people fighting. [YONHAP]

A CCTV image from a parking lot in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, last Saturday night, released by police, shows some 30 people fighting. [YONHAP]

Twenty-six people, mostly foreigners or ethnic Koreans from former countries of the Soviet Union, were arrested last Saturday night in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, after fighting each other in a parking lot, local police said Tuesday.  
 
Gimhae police believe it was a fight between two gangs, though the suspects deny this and claim they were all playing pool when an argument in the parking lot escalated.
 
Police said they aren’t buying that account because many suspects live outside Gimhae, some as far away as Gyeonggi and North Chungcheong. 
 
CCTV footage retrieved from the parking lot showed 10 people arriving in a van and a car that night, before charging towards 20 other people who had already arrived at the scene. They fought with baseball bats and golf clubs.
 
The evidence suggests the suspects agreed to meet at that specific location and time, Gimhae police said, though for what motive is yet unknown.
 
The brawl lasted for about 10 minutes from 10:15 p.m. until they were busted by local police officers patrolling the area.  
 
Twenty-six people at the scene were immediately apprehended, while four fled. Gimhae police said they were going through CCTV footage from around the area to track the missing four.
 
Two people — a 32-year-old from Kyrgyzstan and a 29-year-old from Kazakhstan — are currently being treated in a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
 
While investigations into the arrested 26 are ongoing, police said Tuesday that most were originally from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan, and are either legally documented foreigners with work visas or ethnic Koreans.  
 
Most were said to be working as manual laborers in factories or in agriculture.  
 
A Gimhae police officer said Tuesday on the condition of anonymity that authorities would probe whether the case is linked to other fights that broke out recently among foreigners in Gwangju and other regions.  
 
Five foreigners, including one from Kazakhstan and another from Azerbaijan, were arrested last April on assault charges by Gwangju police after they were caught attacking each other on public streets with lethal weapons. Gwangju police at the time briefed reporters that the two suspects appeared to have fought over a woman.  
 
BY WE SUNG-WOOK, LEE SUNG-EUN   [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
 

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