Mon, May 16, 2011 - Page 5 News List

South Korean man staged bomb blasts to cash in on stocks

MARKET FORCES:Police said that the suspect believed that worries of terrorism after Osama bin Laden’s death would send stock markets falling

AFP, SEOUL

A South Korean man staged two minor bomb attacks with homemade explosives in Seoul last week in an attempt to cash in on stock investments by affecting market sentiment, police said yesterday.

The 43-year-old man, surnamed Kim, arrested in connection with bomb blasts at a Seoul train station and at an express bus terminal on Thursday, invested in financial products that allow him to gain when markets fall, police said.

“He invested 50 million won [US$46,000] this month ... and said he believed bomb explosions will send stock markets falling, given the concerns [of terrorism] after Osama bin Laden’s death,” a police officer on the case told reporters.

Kim, a former convict who served four years in jail for robbery before being released in July last year, lost more than 300 million won in stock investments earlier this year, he said.

“We see no intention of political terror here ... the suspect was just trying to affect market sentiment,” Seoul police said.

South Korea’s main stock market, the KOSPI, dropped 2.03 percent to close at 2,122.65 points on Thursday.

Kim hired two other men to buy explosive materials and put the time bombs made with butane gas canisters in luggage lockers at the main public transport hubs in Seoul.

No casualties were reported from the blasts that occurred about 30 minutes apart on Thursday morning and caused minor damage.

The rare explosions prompted a nationwide search of major public transport hubs involving police commandos and sniffer dogs.

The three suspects were arrested on Saturday after police examined footage from surveillance cameras and traced origins of explosive materials left at the scenes.

Acts of terrorism are extremely rare in South Korea, although North Korean agents have in the past carried out terror attacks on South Koreans overseas.

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