Blast near DMZ wounds 2 South Korean soldiers
SEOUL, South Korea — Two South Korean soldiers were seriously injured Tuesday in an apparent land mine explosion south of the Demilitarized Zone.
The staff sergeants were conducting a routine search operation near Paju when explosive material, presumed to be a land mine, detonated around 7:40 a.m., said a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense. Their injuries are not life-threatening, and both are being treated at a military hospital.
There is no possibility of North Korean involvement in the incident, another military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Yonhap News. Recent heavy rains may have dislodged a land mine in the tense 160-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide DMZ, where officials have previously estimated more than 1 million remain as a deterrent to land attacks across the border, a military official told the state news agency.
One soldier’s legs were amputated below the knee, and the other’s foot was amputated, according to South Korean media reports. The MND spokesman would not comment on the nature of their injuries, and said an investigation into the incident would continue through the weekend.
In recent years, South Korea has spent millions of dollars to remove land mines south of the DMZ, mostly in rural areas. A legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, the mines are sometimes unearthed because of farming or uncovered by heavy rains and washed far from where they were buried.