S. Korea arsonist kills 5 neighbors as they flee fire

Firefighters and residents gather outside a fire-damaged apartment in the southern city of Jinju on Wednesday. — AFP

SEOUL — Five people were killed and more than a dozen others injured by a South Korean man who set his apartment on fire and stabbed his neighbors as they tried to flee the flames, police said on Wednesday.

Police said the 42-year-old suspect set fire to his own flat, located on the fourth floor of a residential building at around 04:25 on Wednesday (19:25 GMT Tuesday), the police chief of Jinju told reporters at a press conference.

He then went down to the second floor where he knifed residents coming out of the corridor.

The youngest of the five victims stabbed to death was a 12-year-old girl.

An unnamed resident told Yonhap news agency that he initially tried to leave the building after hearing the fire alarm but went back to his apartment after seeing “lots of blood” in the hall.

“I heard he was holding knives in both hands,” the neighbor said.

The arsonist, who was detained at the scene, told police he committed the crime to defend against “maligning forces”.

He was detained at the scene after another resident alerted the police. Firefighters extinguished the flames in his apartment some 20 minutes later, say Yonhap.

The suspect had been living alone in the apartment since December 2015, police said. — Agencies