Seoul: N. Koreans fired 40 shots at defector, hit him with 5


Four North Korean soldiers fired 40 rounds at a comrade fleeing into South Korea and hit him five times in the first shooting at the jointly controlled area of the heavily fortified border since 1984, the South’s military said Tuesday.

South Korean soldiers did not fire their weapons in response, but Monday’s incident occurred at a time of high animosity over North Korea’s nuclear program and Pyongyang has expressed intense anger over past defections.

The soldier is being treated at a South Korean hospital after a five-hour operation for the gunshot wounds he suffered during his escape across the Joint Security Area. His personal details and motive for defection are unknown and his exact medical condition is unclear.

South Korea’s military said he suffered injuries in his internal organs but wasn’t in a life-threatening condition. But an official at the Ajou University Medical Center near Seoul said the soldier was relying on a breathing machine after the surgery removed the bullets. The official, who requested anonymity citing official rules, said doctors plan more surgery and it is too early to know if he is out of danger.

On Monday, he first drove a military jeep before he left the vehicle after one of its wheels fell into a ditch. He then fled across the JSA, with fellow soldiers chasing and firing at him, South Korea’s military said, citing unspecified surveillance systems installed in the area.

Suh Wook, chief director of operations for the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that North Korea fired a total of 40 rounds in a shooting that…



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