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Gunman Fires Shots at UN HQ - 2002-10-03


Bullets struck the United Nations building in New York during a shooting incident Thursday. Authorities say a gunman protesting human rights violations in North Korea jumped a fence and fired several shots. New York police have a suspect in custody.

While council members inside the United Nations discussed possible weapons inspections in Iraq, a protester outside managed to pass by security and fired at least seven shots.

Authorities say bullets entered the 18th and 20th floors of the United Nations headquarters, narrowly missing several U.N. employees.

After the shooting, the gunman threw several sheets of paper into the air, which authorities say contain hand-written messages in English about human rights in North Korea. The papers say the people of North Korea have been denied "the most basic of human rights." They charge that some North Korean people living under the dictatorship of leader Kim Jong Il, are starving.

The shooting incident did not interrupt official U.N. discussions about Iraq.

The chief of U.N. security Michael McCann says the shooting highlights the need to strengthen security at the United Nations. Although security has been heightened since the September 11 attacks, additional officers still need to be hired and new barriers put in to prevent people from entering the compound by climbing over the low fence. "What the issue is is the access to the complex," he said. "This is not an area where people would enter through a gate. The issue here is part of our strengthening security budget and our capital master plan which is to strengthen the perimeter access control at the fence design."

New York police identify the gunman as Steve Kim.

U.S. Secret Service agents, on assignment to protect the president of Cyprus who was inside the United Nations, apprehended the suspect. They were joined by U.N. and New York police who did not open fire.

Mr. Kim signed the papers "citizen of the United Nations." He was questioned by the FBI in the case, which is under the jurisdiction of U.S. law.