South Korea conscript who killed 5 comrades continues standoff with troops

South Korean soldiers take their positions during a search and arrest operation in Goseong June 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
South Korean soldiers take their positions during a search and arrest operation in Goseong June 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - A South Korean conscript soldier who killed five of his comrades in a grenade and gun attack continued a standoff on Monday with troops trying to capture him in a region bordering North Korea, officials said.

Officials at the Defence Ministry and the Army said news reports of the capture of the soldier, identified by his last name Lim, were wrong.

Yonhap news agency and YTN television said earlier on Monday that the soldier had been captured.

Late on Saturday night the soldier threw a grenade and opened fire, killing five members of his unit and wounding seven at an outpost in the base at Goseong county, a mountainous region on the eastern coast of the peninsula.

The soldier was described by an official as an "introvert"and said there had been earlier concerns over his psychological health, but he was deemed fit to be deployed to the outpost after passing a test in November.

A massive manhunt saw troops, who had orders to "shoot to kill" if the soldier failed to surrender, exchange gunfire with him on Sunday.

A platoon leader was wounded in the gunfight.

The soldier was now cornered in a densely forested area near a small town in the Goseong county.

A lockdown was in effect around the search zone, including guard posts along the Demilitarized Zone border, a four km wide swathe of land serving as a buffer between the two Koreas since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since the conflict ended in a truce not a peace treaty, and the border is regarded as potentially one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints.

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