August 11, 2015 09:35
Two non-commissioned officers were injured on Aug. 4 when wooden-box mines planted by North Korea in the demilitarized zone near Paju, Gyeonggi Province exploded, the Defense Ministry here said on Monday.
The blast severely damaged the officers' legs.
Military authorities are treating the incident as a deliberate provocation and on Monday afternoon resumed a loudspeaker campaign on the western and central frontline in the DMZ for the first time in 11 years.
Artillery units have been put on higher alert in preparation for a possible strike from the North Korean army, since the North previously threatened to shoot at any loudspeakers that broadcast propaganda across the border.
The UN Command Military Armistice Commission has called for a meeting with the North Korean army, denouncing the incident as a violation of the ceasefire agreement.
It was the first time in 48 years that South Korean soldiers have been wounded by North mines in the DMZ.
The zone is not quite as demilitarized as the name suggests since both sides maintain guard posts inside its perimeters.
"The investigation clearly shows that the explosives were wooden-box mines normally used by the North Korean army," said Brig. Gen. Ahn Young-ho. "It is clear that the enemy deliberately planted three mines for the purpose of harming our personnel."
The mines can kill within a radius of about 2 m.
Investigators concluded that there is little chance the mines got to their location by accident, such as being dislocated by floodwaters, since they sat on higher ground than the northern terrain. They were located near a DMZ gate frequently used by South Korean soldiers.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff in a statement called on the North to apologize and punish those responsible.
Military authorities are considering a wide range of responses if there is any further provocation, including a strike on North Korean guard posts.
"The North probably carried out the provocation to disrupt" upcoming South Korea-U.S. military drills later this month, a military source speculated.
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