South Korea's Military In Stand-Off With Their Killer Sergeant Who Shot Dead Five Soldiers

Incident occurred Saturday at military post near dorder with North Korea.

Cover image via BBC

Late Saturday evening at a military post close to the border with North Korea, a South Korean Sergeant, in his early 20s, threw a grenade that exploded and opened fire, killing 5 fellow soldiers and injuring 5 another

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A South Korean soldier on Saturday shot and killed five people and wounded five others at a military outpost, an official with the South Korean Army said. The location is in the northeast of the country in Gangwon province and it is near the heavily fortified demilitarized zone bordering North Korea.

The attacker, who's known to be a sergeant, is armed and on the run, according to the military official. Authorities said the shooter used a semi-automatic rifle called the K2, one of the standard South Korean army rifles. It is similar to the U.S. military's standard weapon, the M16.

It is not yet clear what motivated him to kill his colleagues. A manhunt is now under way, and while tensions between the North and South have been high, there is no sign this was a cross-border incident.

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"He shot dead five fellow soldiers, wounded five others and then fled the scene with his rifle and ammunition," an army spokesman was quoted by news agency AFP as saying. The shooting took place at an army unit near the border town of Goseong, according to South Korean news agency, Yonhap.

His name is Sergeant Lim and he was to be discharged three months later on 16 September 2014

South Korean soldiers stop a car at a checkpoint amid a huge search for a sergeant who shot dead five comrades

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The number of military personnel involved in the search was the equivalent of nine battalions, an army colonel told a media briefing. Yonhap reported that special forces had been deployed and helicopters were sweeping the search area.

"A cordon operation is underway along with guard posts in the demilitarised zone," a military official was quoted as saying. The demilitarised Zone is a 4km (2.5-mile) wide swathe of land serving as a buffer between the two Koreas since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.

"We have secured a cordon that will prevent him from entering areas where civilians live. We have notified village foremen to make sure residents do not move around and report to us if they spot the shooter," the official said.

The defense ministry issued an apology to the nation over the shooting. The military has been criticised over similar incidents in the past.

South Korean army soldiers search for a soldier who is on the run after a shooting incident in Goseong on Sunday

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"I offer my sincere apology to Koreans for causing worry," said Kim Min-seok, the ministry spokesman. "We have formed a team of 48 to investigate the accident and will have families of the dead present at the crime scene investigation."

The military has been criticised before for lax discipline in some units and failure to prevent previous cases where soldiers, suffering personal problems, have shot fellow soldiers. All able-bodied South Korean men must serve about two years under a conscription system, and there are concerns that new recruits are softer than in the past, and find it harder to adapt to military life.

The South Korean military has more than 600,000 troops, aimed at deterring aggression by North Korea, which is one of the world's most militarised states. North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

An officer said the Sergeant "was on the list of those who require special attention, as he had difficulties in adapting to the military life"

The defence ministry spokesman said the incident was "regrettable", adding: "We truly apologise for causing concern to the nation." There have been similar incidents in South Korea's military, which operates under a conscription system. Bullying and mental problems have been blamed for previous attacks.

On Sunday, the South Korean military cornered the Sergeant and exchanged gunfire with him in which one soldier was injured

South Korean soldiers take their positions in a search for a sergeant who is on the run after allegedly shooting five of his comrades in Goseong.

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The military encountered the man identified as Sgt Lim near a checkpoint in northeastern Gangwon province, where the base shooting occurred a day earlier. Gunfire erupted after the military surrounded him.

About 60 shots rang out. The man's parents are there to persuade him to surrender, CNN affiliate YTN reported. One platoon leader was injured during the gunfight, according to YTN.

The unfortunate shooting comes at a sensitive period for South Korea, with the nation still in shock after the death of more than 300 school children, in a ferry disaster in April

Back in April 2014, an Iraq war veteran had killed three colleagues before shooting himself dead

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