North Korean Soldiers Suspected in Killing of Chinese Villagers

Three more Chinese villagers were killed by men police believe to be soldiers deserting North Korea, the third such incident since September amid lingering tension between the two allies.

Three North Korean men in military uniform attacked a 67-year-old man, a 55-year-old man and his 26-year-old daughter with “sharp weapons” on April 24 in the border village of Shiren, Jilin province, according to the Beijing News. The report Wednesday cited an unamed local deputy Communist Party chief as saying police were investigating the case.

A posting on an official Weibo account of Helong City, which administers the area, confirmed the murder investigation and the victims’ ages. It made no mention of North Korea. Neither the Weibo posting nor the Beijing News story said anything about the suspects’ possible whereabouts.

The case is the latest in a spate of murders by North Koreans inside China’s border, testing Beijing’s ability to manage both an 880-mile frontier and its relationship with the reclusive country. The killings of four residents of a border village in December prompted China to file a complaint with North Korea, risking tensions between the two allies.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un defied China in 2013 to conduct the country’s third nuclear test, and in the same year executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who had promoted commercial ties with China.

More killings occurred in September, in which a family of three villagers were killed by a North Korean fleeing the country, the Beijing News. Officials in some of the border villages affected say that North Korean soldiers regular cross into China in search of food and money.

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