S. Korean man sets flat on fire, kills 5 fleeing blaze: Police

The scene (left) where a man allegedly set fire to his flat and fatally stabbed five people trying to flee the blaze. Police have arrested a 42-year-old male suspect. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EPA-EFE
The scene (above) where a man allegedly set fire to his flat and fatally stabbed five people trying to flee the blaze. PHOTO: REUTERS
The scene (left) where a man allegedly set fire to his flat and fatally stabbed five people trying to flee the blaze. Police have arrested a 42-year-old male suspect. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EPA-EFE
Police have arrested a 42-year-old male suspect. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL • South Korean police arrested a 42-year-old man yesterday after he set his apartment on fire, then stabbed to death five people who tried to flee from the blaze, police said.

The man, surnamed Ahn, set fire to his apartment before dawn in the city of Jinju, south-east of Seoul, then attacked other residents of the building who fled down a staircase to escape the flames, a police officer said.

The five people killed included a 12-year-old girl, while 13 people were injured.

Firefighters were able to put out the blaze after 20 minutes.

The man said his actions were triggered by "overdue wages", the officer said.

But the Labour Ministry later released a statement saying that its records did not match the claim and no complaint about unpaid wages had been filed.

After shouting "fire", the perpetrator reportedly stood at the staircase on the second floor and wielded two sashimi knives at residents running down the stairs to escape the burning building.

Jinju police said that Ahn likely chased the victims in the attack, as blood was found at the end of the corridor.

Some residents of the 10-storey building went up to the rooftop to avoid the attack.

A female resident who witnessed the incident told a CBS radio news show yesterday morning that the scene was chaotic as people were running up to the rooftop as the fire was still burning.

According to the witness, one of the victims told her that Ahn had pushed a body to the side with his foot while attacking other people.

Ahn lived in the apartment alone and had no job, police said, adding that the motive behind the crime had not been established as the man had been incoherent.

REUTERS, KOREA HERALD

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2019, with the headline 'S. Korean man sets flat on fire, kills 5 fleeing blaze: Police'. Print Edition | Subscribe