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Politics/Diplomacy
2010/03/04 07:14 KST
More N. Korean soldiers had crossed border to capture defector: Seoul official

  
SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) -- Two or three North Korean soldiers had crossed the border with the South to capture a defecting compatriot, but returned to their territory after warning shots were fired by South Korean troops, a military official here said Thursday.

   The North Korean soldier defected to the South by crossing the eastern front line late Tuesday, expressing his wish to live in the South. The South Korean government has yet to reveal the soldier's identity and is investigating the specific route and motives behind his defection.

   "Two or three more North Korean soldiers crossed the Military Demarcation Line Tuesday, about an hour after the defector crossed the line. They returned after we aired a warning and fired warning shots," an official at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, requesting not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

   There were no casualties, the official said, adding the military believes the soldiers were attempting to capture their fleeing colleague.

   Technically, the two Koreas remain at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. The agreement created the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries, which is heavily guarded by soldiers, barbed wire and land mines.

   About 12,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the war, most of them by first crossing North Korea's less guarded border with China and then coming to the South via a third country.

   The most recent defection through the Koreas' land border was in 2008 by a North Korean military officer.

   hayney@yna.co.kr
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