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Two US soldiers accused of rape in South Korea

Associated Press / October 9, 2011

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SEOUL - Two US soldiers have been accused of raping teenage girls in South Korea in separate incidents, prompting US military officials to apologize yesterday as they tried to ease growing public anger.

Army Brigadier General David Conboy, who supervises the US garrison in Seoul, issued a statement apologizing for “pain’’ caused by allegations that a US soldier raped a girl in Seoul on Sept. 17. That solider - a private in his early 20s - is being questioned by police.

Another US private has been arrested on suspicion of raping a girl on Sept. 24.

The top US diplomat for East Asia, Kurt Campbell, apologized Friday for what he called a “tragic and inexcusable rape that took place about a week ago.’’

The alleged assaults have prompted small protests near the US Embassy in Seoul, while the Internet has been abuzz with Koreans expressing anger. Yesterday, a minor labor party called for restricting the movement of US soldiers outside their bases.

The United States has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War.

General James Thurman, America’s top commander in South Korea, said he has ordered a 30-day curfew after “the incidents over the last several months.’’

US officials are wary of anti-American sentiment that could be rekindled in countries where their troops are stationed. In 2002, the acquittals of two US soldiers whose armored vehicle killed two South Korean schoolgirls prompted nationwide protests against the US military presence in the country.