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Authorities move in on Miryang power-line protesters

Miryang city government and the police on Wednesday forcibly removed three camps of locals engaged in a prolonged protest against the construction of a high voltage power line in the area.

A total of five tower construction sites had been occupied by protesters, and the Miryang authorities plan to clear the remaining two within the day.

At about 6 a.m. Tuesday, officials from the South Gyeongsang Province city began taking down the protesters’ makeshift abodes with the support of about 2,000 police personnel. 

The protesters had been ordered to withdraw by June 2.

The city officials and police were met with strong resistance from the protesters, who responded by throwing manure and physically resisting the officials.

According to reports, a number of Miryang residents and a nun supporting their cause were injured and taken to hospital. In addition, a protester identified by the surname Bae was taking into custody for interfering with public officials.

Korea Electric Power Corp. is reported to be placing fences around the area to prevent protesters from reoccupying the towers’ construction sites.

The project was approved by the government in November 2007 to link the Shin-Kori nuclear power plant in Ulsan to a substation in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, through a 765-kilovolt transmission line across 90.5 kilometers with 161 towers.

The locals have protested the project since the beginning, and two have committed suicide to further their cause.

Of the 161 towers, 109 have been completed while construction on five has been delayed. Of the total, 52 towers are located in the Miryang area. Since work was resumed in October, 47 towers have been completed.

By Choi Hee-suk(