N.Korean soldier who defected in critical condition

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Seoul, Nov 14 (IANS) A North Korean soldier who defected to South Korea after being shot by his fellow troops used an all-terrain vehicle to escape is in critical condition, authorities said on Tuesday.

The man on Monday approached the Joint Security Area (JSA), the only area where border guards of the rival Koreas face each other, in the vehicle and then abandoned it to continue his escape to the South, the UN Command said.

He was hit by five rounds while running away from the North in the area inside the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ), Yonhap News Agency reported.

He was in critical condition and it was unclear whether he will live, given the seriousness of the wound, according to Lee Cook-jong, a doctor at the Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, south of Seoul.

It was unclear whether the North’s troops actually crossed the MDL, even for seconds, during the hunt.

The defector, apparently a private, sought shelter near a building on the southern side of the JSA and was found there about half hour later by South Korean troops.

He was taken to the hospital in a helicopter and underwent surgery. He was still unconscious.

It is rare for a North Korean soldier to defect via the JSA, and experts have said that North Korea carefully chooses the soldiers deployed in that area to avoid such incidents.

–IANS

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