North Koreans seize farmers

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The Independent Online
North Korean border guards abducted two South Korean farmers yesterday inside the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, the United Nations Command said.

The command said 12 armed North Korean soldiers crossed into the southern half of the buffer zone, seized the two in a rice field and took them back to the northern side. It called the abduction an apparent armistice violation.

"The South Korean government strongly demands that the North return the South Korean citizens immediately and safely," Defence Ministry spokesman Kang June-kwon said.

The incident took place in what is known as the joint security area near the border village of Panmunjom. The area is under the control of the UN command.

The command said a battalion of primarily US troops had been put on alert in the area and a senior member of the UN Military Armistice Commission was trying to contact North Korean officials.

The command said there had been no exchange of fire.