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(2nd LD) 5 soldiers killed, 7 wounded in shooting spree at border post

2014/06/22 01:42

(ATTN: RECASTS title, lead with latest figure, dateline; ADDS more info throughout)

GOSEONG, South Korea, June 22 (Yonhap) -- Five soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded Saturday after a soldier went on a shooting spree at a front-line Army unit, the Army headquarters said.

The South Korean Army sergeant in the 22nd Infantry Division in this eastern border town of Goseong, Gangwon Province, identified only by his surname Lim, fired about 10 shots with his K-2 rifle near a general outpost (GOP) at about 8:15 p.m. Saturday, which led to the casualties, according to the Army.

The shooter then ran away with a grenade, a gun, some 60 rounds of ammunition, prompting the military to launch an extensive operation to catch the fugitive soldier, according to the Army. He remained on the loose as the clock ticked past midnight, according to Army officers.

A grenade went off near the scene of the rampage, the officers said, adding they were trying to find out if it had been thrown by Lim and to determine whether the grenade, along with rifle shots, had also caused casualties and injuries.

The victims include one staff sergeant, a sergeant, a corporal and two privates, with their identity being withheld by the Army.

The wounded soldiers were taken to nearby hospitals, and they did not sustain life-threatening injuries, according to the officers.

Immediately after wrapping up his guard duty for about six hours from 2 p.m. Saturday, Lim apparently opened fire near the post, the officers said.

Though the front-line unit is near the tense border with North Korea, the incident has nothing to do with the communist country, they noted.

"Lim was on the list of servicepersons who require special attention, as he had difficulties in adapting himself to the military life," an Army officer said, adding that the motive for the shootings remains unknown.

"The military has strengthened vigilance against the possibility that he might commit more crimes," another Army officer said. "We're also guarding against his possible crossing into North Korea."

   The Ministry of National Defense set up a crisis management team to deal with the case, according to its officials.

In 2005, a South Korean Army private set off a hand grenade and opened fire at a unit near the border with North Korea, killing eight sleeping colleagues and wounding two others.

In 2011, a Marine Corps corporal also went on a shooting spree at a seaside unit on Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul, killing four soldiers and wounding another one.