Seoul: North Koreans fire at soldier trying to defect to South

15 November, 2017, 01:53 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • This image shows three U.S. aircraft carriers

The US-led United Nations Command (UNC), which monitors the Panmunjom border truce village where the defection occurred Monday, said the soldier had driven close to the heavily-guarded, military demarcation line separating the two Koreas.

South Korean troops found the injured soldier south of the border after hearing sounds of gunfire, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, requesting anonymity, citing department rules.

The Joint Chiefs have said the military remains on alert for any provocations from the North.

An official with the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North's border guards fired at least 40 rounds.

The move is considered highly unusual as even defectors from the North rarely cross directly over the border - usually crossing into China first before heading to Seoul - and South Korea's National Intelligence, army and police have launched a joint investigation. The last time a North Korean soldier defected through there was in 2007 and, before that, in 1998.

The blitz across one of the world's most closely patrolled borders - the first such military defection in a decade - has riveted the region with elements that read like a scene from a movie, including the soldier being shot five times by his countrymen as he ran south on Monday. They stand only several meters (yards) away from tall South Korean soldiers wearing aviator sunglasses and standing motionless like statues.

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All channels for dialogue are now cut off between Seoul and Pyongyang after North Korea's relentless development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

Two American soldiers also were killed in the DMZ by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers in a 1976 brawl over an attempt to trim a poplar tree.

Panmunjomis where an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War.

The CCL is drawn just below the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) which divides South Korea from its rogue northern neighbour. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone. In addition, North Korean soldiers could have fired rifles and pistols when he was trying to cross the MDL.

North Korea has typically accused South Korea of enticing its citizens to defect, something the South denies. In September the North carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test, of what it described as a hydrogen bomb.

The Associated Press contribute to this report.

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