South Korean sol­dier kills five com­rades

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - NEWS WORLD - By Jung-Yoon Choi and Youkyung Lee

SEOUL, South Korea — The mil­i­tary searched to­day for an armed South Korean sol­dier who fled af­ter killing five of his com­rades and wound­ing seven at an out­post near the North Korean bor­der.

The sergeant, iden­ti­fied only by his sur­name, Yim, opened fire Satur­day night with his stan­dard is­sue K2 as­sault ri­fle at an out­post in Gang­won prov­ince, east of Seoul, a De­fence Min­istry spokesman said. He spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of depart­ment rules.

Yim, who was sched­uled to be dis­charged from the mil­i­tary in Septem­ber, fled with his weapon, but it wasn’t clear how much live am­mu­ni­tion he had, the of­fi­cial said.

De­fence of­fi­cial Kim Min-seok said to­day at a tele­vised brief­ing all the wounded were ex­pected to sur­vive, al­though two were in­jured se­ri­ously. He said search op­er­a­tions were un­der­way to quickly find Yim. He didn’t elab­o­rate.

Thou­sands of troops from the ri­val Koreas are squared off along the world’s most heav­ily armed bor­der.

Park Cheol-yong, the head of Madal vil­lage, near the army di­vi­sion where the gun­fire took place, said he warned vil­lagers to stay in their houses. Park Jin-soo, a pas­tor at a church in the vil­lage, said ser­vices would take place as usual to­day, de­spite the ten­sion over the miss­ing sol­dier and the shoot­ing.

There was no in­di­ca­tion North Korea was in­volved. Ten­sions be­tween the two coun­tries have been high re­cently, with North Korea stag­ing a se­ries of mis­sile and ar­tillery drills and threat­en­ing South Korea’s leader. The Koreas have also traded fire along their dis­puted mar­itime bor­der in the Yel­low Sea. South Korea has re­peat­edly vowed to re­spond with strength if pro­voked by the North.

Shoot­ings hap­pen oc­ca­sion­ally at the bor­der.

In 2011, a 19-year- old ma­rine cor­po­ral went on a shoot­ing ram­page at a Gwanghwa Is­land base, just south of the mar­itime bor­der with North Korea. Mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tors later said the cor­po­ral was an­gry about be­ing shunned and slighted and showed signs of men­tal ill­ness be­fore the shoot­ing.

In 2005, a sol­dier tossed a hand grenade and opened fire at a front-line army unit in a ram­page that killed eight col­leagues and in­jured sev­eral oth­ers. Pfc. Kim Dong-min told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he was en­raged at su­pe­ri­ors who ver­bally abused him.

All able-bod­ied South Korean men must serve about two years in the mil­i­tary un­der a con­scrip­tion sys­tem aimed at coun­ter­ing ag­gres­sion from North Korea.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

YON­HAP, YOO HYUNG- JAE / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

One of seven wounded soldiers ar­rives at an army hospi­tal in Gangne­ung, South Korea.

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