Buddhist temple stormed by police

SOUTH KOREAN police raided the headquarters of the country's main Buddhist sect yesterday to enforce a court order against dissident monks who had been occupying part of the temple grounds for more than a month.

By the time the raid was over, at least one riot policeman had been rushed to hospital with serious injuries, two monks had slashed themselves and threatened suicide and the temple's administrative building had been scorched.

Police said 18 people, mainly police, were in hospital, while 76, including 53 monks, were arrested. At 4am local time, 6,000 riot police began gathering around the temple. More than 1,000 were in the grounds when the raid began.

Monks occupying the administrative building placed jugs of petrol along the building's ledges and threatened suicide via loudspeakers if the police tried to storm the building.

The raid was the latest chapter in a violent power struggle in the election of leadership of the Chogye Order of Buddhism. Dissident monks last month drove out supporters of the former leader Song Wol-ju when he announced his candidacy for a third four-year term. Dissidents said that violated a limit of two terms imposed in 1994. (Reuters)