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Two N. Korean armed deserters arrested after shootout with Chinese security forces: source

2016/07/29 12:06

By Kim Kwang-tae and Choi Kyong-ae

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- Two North Korean deserters who robbed villages in China's Jilin Province have been arrested after a shootout with Chinese security forces, a source with direct knowledge of the incident said Friday.

The source who lives near the Sino-China border region told Yonhap News Agency that the two were part of a group of five who illegally crossed the border near the North Korean city of Hyesan last Saturday and robbed people living in two rural villages at gunpoint.

They were holed up at a house in the Changbai Korean Autonomous County when Chinese border guard and police tried to apprehend them early Thursday. In the ensuing gun fight the culprits were arrested, although three others got away.

The Chinese national police then said that several Chinese security forces were injured in the process with two detectives receiving serious wounds requiring them to be evacuated to a hospital in Changchun.

"Chinese authorities are chasing the three runaways and telling people to be extra careful," the source said.

He said Chinese authorities confirmed the robbers were armed with guns and had ammunition, and were North Korean military deserters. The provincial government and security forces imposed a curfew at night to protect citizens.

The latest incident comes after chronic food shortages in North Korea first pushed soldiers and some civilians to cross over the lightly guarded border with China from the year 2000 onwards to steal food and money from Chinese nationals. In late 2014, a North Korean deserter broke into a home in Helong and murdered four people and wounded another, and year earlier one North Korean man in his 20s killed a Chinese couple in Yanji while trying to steal their valuables.