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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 12:16 UK

S Korea police storm car factory

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Police commandos stormed the factory

South Korean police commandos have stormed a car factory south of Seoul, trying to evict hundreds of dismissed workers who have occupied it for weeks.

About 80 commandos fought through firebombs and projectiles, but stopped short of the paint shop which the laid-off workers have barricaded.

The workers are angry at Ssangyong motor company's plans to cut thousands of jobs to try to prevent bankruptcy.

At least 23 people were injured in the operation, South Korean media reported.

Several vehicles used by the workers as barricades were set alight in the clash, sending plumes of thick smoke into the air.

Several police and fire-fighting helicopters hovered overhead.

Fierce resistance

More than 500 workers are thought to be occupying the paint shop at the Ssangyong factory in Pyeongtaek, 70km (43 miles) south of Seoul.

The police commandos stopped short of trying to storm the paint shop after fierce resistance from the workers inside, who were armed with metal pipes, firebombs and projectiles launched by catapults.

South Korea riot police at Ssangyong factory - 4 August 2009
The police have so far failed to evict the laid-off workers

The workers have occupied the plant since 21 May to protest against the massive layoffs.

The carmaker, South Korea's fifth largest, has been trying to reorganise since entering court-approved bankruptcy protection in February.

Ssangyong wants to cut about 2,600 workers - one-third of its workforce. More than 1,600 workers have accepted voluntary redundancy, but the other 1,000 are still fighting to keep their jobs.

Negotiations to end the occupation broke off on Sunday, with the union representing workers rejecting a management proposal to reduce the number of layoffs.

The union insists that no workers should be dismissed.



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