South Korea's 'friendly fire' rampage soldier captured after failed suicide attempt, officials say

Apparent deserter shot himself in side and has been taken to hospital

Seoul

A South Korean soldier who fled after allegedly killing five colleagues was captured Monday following an unsuccessful suicide attempt, the Defense Ministry said.

The 22-year-old sergeant surnamed Yim shot himself on the side of his abdomen but failed to kill himself. Yim was being taken to a nearby hospital, said a ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules. He gave no further details.

There has been massive manhunt for Yim since authorities said he killed five and wounded seven Saturday night before fleeing his frontline unit with his standard issue K2 assault rifle.

He also fired Sunday on the troops chasing him, injuring a platoon leader. On Monday, officials said a South Korean soldier was wounded by suspected friendly fire.

Earlier, troops surrounded him so closely Monday in the forest that they could toss him a mobile phone to talk to his father as well as bread and bottled water. His parents were also brought to the area to try to persuade him to turn himself in.

It wasn't clear what triggered the rampage, and there was no indication that South Korea's bitter rival, North Korea, was involved.

Yim was scheduled to complete his nearly two years of mandatory military service in September, according to defense officials.

Initial personality tests in April of last year put Yim within a group of soldiers who need special attention and are unfit for frontline duty, according to the Defense Ministry. But tests last November concluded he had improved and could serve in the frontline area, defense officials said.

The Associated Press

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