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South Korean soldier who killed five comrades apologises

IANS | Last Updated: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 16:36

Seoul: The soldier who killed five of his unit comrades last weekend in a South Korean army barrack, apologised to the families of the victims and to his own, said the country`s ministry of national defense in Seoul Tuesday.

The 22-year-old sergeant named Lim "apologised to his own family and the families of the victims for the harm caused", a ministry spokesperson told Efe.

Lim was admitted to the hospital following his suicide attempt Monday when he shot himself in the chest.

He wrote in his note that he "is repentant of his behaviour" and acknowledged that his attack on his fellow comrades "was a great mistake", said the ministry representative.

Last Saturday, after performing his military service for the day, Lim threw a grenade and opened fire with his rifle at other soldiers, killing five of them and injuring seven others in an army barrack in Goseong, near the North Korean border.

When the army cornered him two days after he absconded to the mountains with a rifle and grenade, Lim asked for a paper and pencil approximately 30 minutes before shooting himself near the heart, that was eventually not fatal.

Apart from his apology, he also put down in his note some "abstract expressions of his thoughts" which the ministry of defence has decided not to make public.

After a surgery that removed the bullet, Lim is recuperating and is out of danger in a hospital in Gangneung, around 240 km east of Seoul.

Although, the motive behind his attack is unknown at the moment, it is speculated that the attack could have been the result of "bullying" by his companions, a practice that is still prevalent in the South Korean army, in spite of efforts to eliminate it.

When he began his obligatory military service, Lim was put in the list of those soldiers who required special attention on account of their difficulty in adapting to military life, although he was later reclassified as any other soldier.

The incident has sparked off a strong debate in South Korea which could make the army reconsider and revise its methods of recruitment.

In 2005, another soldier killed eight of his comrades with a hand grenade and an assault rifle in the north of the country, while in 2011 a former Marine Corps member killed four of his companions and wounded one in the island of Ganghwa, east of Seoul.

All men of age must perform two years of mandatory military service in South Korea, a country that is still at war with neighbouring North Korea.

First Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - 16:36
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