UK & World News

  • 21 June 2014, 21:07

South Korean Soldier Kills Comrades And Flees

A South Korean soldier has shot dead five members of his own unit at a guard post near the border with the North, say officials.

The army conscript, who also wounded five others when he opened fire, is on the run after fleeing with his weapon.

An operation is under way to capture him.

The shooting happened at an outpost in Goseong, about 205 miles northeast of the capital Seoul, on Saturday.

It is located just outside the demilitarised zone (DMZ) - a buffer strip that runs the full length of the border, and known as the world's last Cold War frontier.

A spokesman said: "He shot dead five fellow soldiers, wounded five others and then fled the scene with his rifle and ammunition."

There is no indication North Korea was involved, but tensions have been heightened recently, with Pyongyang staging a series of missile and artillery drills.

The rivals have also exchanged fire along their disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea.

Shootings do happen occasionally on the heavily-fortified border.

Last year, South Korean soldiers shot and killed a man they thought was trying to cross into the North.

In 2011, a 19-year-old marine corporal went on a shooting rampage at a Gwanghwa Island base, just south of the tense maritime border.

And in 2005, a soldier tossed a hand grenade and opened fire at a frontline army unit in a rampage that killed eight colleagues and injured several others.

The Korean Peninsula is still technically in a state of war as the 1950-53 war ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The South Korean military made up of more than 600,000 troops relies heavily on conscription, and military service often involves postings to frontline positions on the border with North Korea.