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Switchings of discharge current induced by ArF and KrF laser pulses in the discharge media of CF2Cl2-N2 and CH3Cl-N2 were investigated using a negative point-to-plane discharge apparatus. The electron attachment rate constants of CF2Cl2 in buffer gases of N2 and Ar were measured by a parallel-plate drift-tube apparatus at various E/N, from which the dominant negative ions in the discharge media were inferred. The conductivity of the discharge medium is enhanced upon laser irradiation due to conduction electrons being produced from photoelectron-detachment of Cl-. From the dependence of the enhanced current on laser power, the photodetachment cross sections of Cl- in a given discharge condition were derived to be 2.5 Ã 10-17 cm2 at 193 nm and 1.0 Ã 10-17 cm2 at 248 nm. After the current enhancement, the current was greatly reduced as was observed in the discharge medium of CF2Cl2-N2, but not in CH3Cl-N2. The mechanism for the optically induced reduction of discharge current is discussed.