S.Korea condemns North over land mine blast

S.Korea threatens retaliation against N.Korea over land mine blast in Demilitarised Zone

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

South Korea's military threatened retaliation against North Korea on Monday, accusing the North of planting land mines inside the Demilitarized Zone which wounded two soldiers last week and calling this a cowardly act of provocation.

The South's military said during a news briefing that there is evidence to suggest that soldiers from the North crossed the Military Demarcation Line recently to plant the mines, and Pyongyang would be made to "pay a severe price" for the incident.

"We strongly condemn this cowardly act, which would be unthinkable for a normal military," Major General Ku Hong-mo of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, calling it a violation of the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

The denunciation is likely to provoke an angry response from the North and further raise tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The United Nations Command in South Korea, which oversees the armistice and is headed by the US military, also condemned what it called the North's violation of the truce. It said it would call for a meeting with the North's military.

The area where the blast took place last Tuesday had been swept for mines and the terrain made it impossible for mines planted elsewhere to have drifted due to rain or shifting soil, South Korea's military said.

Fragments from the exploded mines also bore paint typically used by the North, it added.

Two soldiers who were part of a team conducting a routine search operation inside the heavily fortified DMZ near the town of Paju, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Seoul, were seriously wounded in the blast.