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5 killed in shoot-out between S. Korean troops, infiltrators


November 5, 1996
Web posted at: 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT)

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean troops shot and killed two suspected North Korean infiltrators Tuesday, but lost three men in the fierce gun battle.

The slain North Koreans were believed to be among the last three infiltrators still at large after their submarine was stranded off the east coast of South Korea on September 17. Of the 26 men believed to have been aboard the sub, one has been captured and 24 others have been found dead or killed by South Korean troops.

dead North Koreans

Two South Korean officers and a soldier were killed when the North Koreans opened fire with M-16 automatic rifles and hurled grenades at pursuing South Korean troops about 6 miles from the border with the communist north, Seoul officials said. About a dozen other South Korean soldiers were wounded.

The North Koreans were wearing South Korean army fatigues and carrying the standard South Korean army M-16 rifles. South Korean troops are continuing an intensive search of the area for the remaining suspect.

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Seoul's special forces had been combing the rugged east coast mountains just south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) since Monday when the two North Koreans fled after being stopped by southern soldiers, he said.

The DMZ was set up between the two Koreas under the 1953 armistice agreement which ended the three-year Korean War. The two Koreas are still technically at war.

The submarine incursion has inflamed tensions between the two Koreas.

South Korea claims the submarine, which ran aground off the eastern city of Kangnung on September 17, was sent to infiltrate spies, while North Korea says it drifted south after developing engine trouble during a routine training mission.

Seoul has demanded a "clear apology" from Pyongyang over the submarine incursion. North Korea, for its part, has threatened to retaliate "a hundred-fold or a thousand-fold" over the killings and requested the return of the bodies, the survivors and the submarine.

Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-Ae and Reuters contributed to this report.


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