SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon apologized Tuesday for the sexual violence committed by soldiers during their brutal crackdown on a 1980 pro-democracy uprising in the southwestern city of Gwangju.

A fact-finding committee comprised of officials from the defense ministry and other government agencies announced last week that its investigation found that troops enforcing martial law committed sexual violence against women during the crackdown, including 17 cases of rape.

"Unjustly mobilized state power trampled on women's lives," Lee said during a parliamentary meeting. "I feel inexplicably terrible and am apologetic. I offer a word of apology to victims and Gwangju citizens."

Lee said the government will do whatever it can to help victims, and the defense ministry will announce such measures on Wednesday.

In the 1980 uprising, thousands of Gwangju citizens rose up against the military junta in power at the time, led by Gen. Chun Doo-hwan, who seized power in an internal coup, following the assassination of his mentor, President Park Chung-hee, eight months earlier.

The junta sent tank-led paratroopers to ruthlessly crack down on the nine-day revolt. More than 200 people were killed and 1,800 others wounded.

Source: Yonhap News Agency