UK & World News

  • 22 June 2014, 11:06

South Korean Troops In Gunfight With Soldier

South Korean troops have been involved in a gunfight with a soldier who earlier went on the run after killing five comrades.

The military has surrounded the army sergeant, identified only by his surname Yim, and was trying to get him to surrender.

His parents were also at the scene, pleading with him to give himself up.

Yim had opened fire on members of his own unit at a guard post in a base near the border with the North on Saturday, say officials.

The conscript, who also wounded seven others in the grenade and gun attack at the end of his shift, then fled with his K2 assault rifle and 60 rounds of ammunition.

He was discovered hiding near a school six miles from the base and as troops tried to capture him on Sunday, the soldier opened fire.

A platoon leader was reportedly injured in the arm.

Yim, who was scheduled to be discharged from the army in September, was described as an "introvert" and had difficulty adapting to life in the military.

And he was on a list of "those who require special attention", said an officer.

There had been concerns about his psychological health, but he was deemed fit to be deployed to the outpost after passing a test in November, according to an official.

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

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

Yim's victims included one staff sergeant, a sergeant, a corporal and two privates. Their identities were being withheld by the army.

The wounded soldiers were taken to nearby hospitals but their injuries were not life-threatening.

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

The South's ministry of national defence publicly said sorry for Saturday's attack.

"We sincerely apologise for causing trouble to the people," said spokesman Kim Min-seok.

"We pray that the soldiers who died from this unexpected accident rest in peace and offer our deep condolences to the families of those killed and injured.

"We will do all we can do to support them."