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S.Korean soldier kills 8 colleagues in shooting spree
20/6/2005 8:38

South Korean soldier went on a shooting spree at a front-line Army unit early Sunday morning, killing eight of his colleagues and seriously injuring two others,announced the South Korean Defense Ministry.

The incident took place at Yeoncheon county located near the inter-Korean land border, some 70 kilometers north to Seoul, said Chang Suk-kyu, head of the Public Affairs Office of the South Korean Army at a press conference.

The 22-year-old soldier, with a rank of private first class, identified only by his surname Kim, threw a grenade and fired roughly 40 bullets from a rifle in barracks at around 2:30 a.m. Sunday (1730 GMT Saturday), according to Chang.

His platoon leader, Lieutenant Kim Jong-myung, and seven other soldiers whose average age was 22 were gunned down on the spot, and two others were seriously injured.

The injured soldiers were immediately airlifted to nearby Yangju hospital, said Chang, adding their injuries were not fatal to their lives.

The cause of the incident was still under investigation, said Chang.

Moreover, at the beginning of the press conference, South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung made an apology statement for the incident.

"As the minister in charge of national defense, I lower my head and make a sincere apology for the incident," Yoon Kwang-ung said.

"I express deep condolence to the soldiers and their bereaved families," Yoon said. "We will make thorough follow-up measures tostave off the recurrence of a similar incident."

The shooter was enrolled in army in last December. He fired at his colleagues may because he harbored resentment with a veteran who always scolded him, South Korean national Yonhap News Agency quoted sources as saying in an earlier report.

South Korea has been carrying out compulsory military service all over the country since the end of Korea War (1950-1953). Healthy South Korean male citizen must serve in the military for 24-28 months.

Cases of abuses of recruits by veterans were often revealed by media.