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7 more North Koreans shot dead in South


Manhunt for others from submarine continues

September 19, 1996
Web posted at: 3:15 p.m. EDT (1915 GMT)

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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean troops surrounded and killed seven North Koreans in three shootouts Thursday during a manhunt in remote eastern mountains, the Seoul government said. Thousands of soldiers searched for more of the communist infiltrators who came from a submarine that ran aground a day earlier.


Eighteen North Koreans have been killed since their submarine was found early Wednesday in the surf just off Kangnung, 90 miles (140 kilometers) east of Seoul. One intruder was captured and interrogated but provided few details on what South Korean officials say was a spy mission meant to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

It was not clear how many other North Koreans might still be at large. North Korea has not commented on the incident, which has heightened concern in the South that the North is a serious military threat.

'Danger from the north'

"Many young people who didn't experience the Korean War are now thinking again about the real danger from the North," said Choi Jeoung-Wook of the Institute for National Unification. The incident "will move the South Korean people to a more conservative orientation," he said.

As night fell Thursday, South Korean troops suspended the search but remained stationed along suspected escape routes. Helicopters prowled over steep ravines, scattering leaflets urging the fleeing North Koreans to turn themselves in.


The three shootouts Thursday took place about 20 miles (30 kilometers) northwest of where the submarine landed. The North Koreans -- three in two groups and one in another -- were spread out over a widely scattered area. One South Korean soldier suffered slight injuries.


The North Koreans wore jeans and T-shirts, civilian jackets and tennis shoes. They were also armed with pistols, knives and grenades. They appeared to be trying to get back to the border, some 40 miles (65 kilometers) farther north.

Eleven other North Koreans were found dead on a mountain Wednesday. All had been shot in the head in an apparent suicide pact to avoid capture.

Interrogated with alcohol

South Korean General Shin Sang-kil told reporters Thursday that the captured intruder had been plied with alcohol by interrogators and was slowly beginning to talk. "He at first refused to answer, saying he feared for the lives of his family he left in the North, but after drinking four (small) bottles of soju (Korean liquor), he began to open his mouth," Shin said.

The man, identified as Li Gwang Su, told investigators that his submarine lost engine power shortly after leaving its home port of Wonsan on Monday and drifted into South Korean waters. But he refused to disclose where it was headed or what its mission was, South Korean officials said.

Defense Minister Lee Yang-ho told Parliament Thursday that the lone captured intruder initially said 20 were aboard the sub but later said there were up to 27.

Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-Ae and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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