June 23 (Bloomberg) -- South Korean troops surrounded and traded gunfire with a soldier who killed five compatriots and wounded seven in a shooting spree at a military outpost near the border with North Korea.
The soldier was cornered yesterday in the border county of Goseong, and an exchange of shots near an elementary school left one person wounded, YTN television reported.
Nearby residents were evacuated, it said. Authorities and the man’s parents were appealing to the soldier to surrender, news agency Yonhap reported. The military issued its highest alert to prevent further casualties and took action to ensure security in the border region, Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said yesterday by phone.
“Authorities will do whatever we can to find the runaway while ensuring security near the border,” Kim said yesterday in a briefing broadcast live by YTN. “It’s heart-breaking and we offer deep condolence to the dead and their families.”
The shooting took place during a duty shift on June 21 at an outpost at Goseong, east of Seoul, Kim said. The soldier ran away with a grenade, a gun and about 60 rounds of ammunition, Yonhap News reported.
Two of the seven wounded in the attack are in stable condition following emergency surgery, Kim said, adding that the cause of the incident is under investigation.
South Korean men are required by law to do military service for almost two years.
In 2005, a South Korean Army private set off a hand grenade and fired at a unit near the border with the North, killing eight sleeping colleagues and injuring two others, according to the Yonhap report. In 2011, a Marine Corps corporal went on a shooting spree at a unit on Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul, killing four troops and injuring one, it said.
North and South Korean forces face each other over one of the world’s most heavily armed borders after the 1950-53 Korean War ended without a peace treaty.
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