Two South Korean soldiers were injured in an explosion at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) today, according to local media.
The explosion occurred at 7.40 AM at Yeonchon, in Gyeonggi Province on the western side of the DMZ.
The cause of the blast is suspected to be a landmine, with both soldiers taken to hospital with leg injuries.
“I am very sad about the unfortunate accident that took place during an operation,” Kim said in a regular briefing. “What appeared to be a mine explosion took place, but due to the speedy response on the site, their conditions are not life-threatening,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said at a briefing in Seoul today.
While both soldiers are reportedly in stable condition, both suffered very serious injuries. One soldier lost both legs below the knee and the other lost his right ankle.
“North Korea buried 600,000 mines and the South buried 500,000. Anti-personnel mines are difficult to detect,” Kim Ki-ho, President of the Green Peace Coalition told NK News.
It is currently unclear if the two soldiers stepped on a South or North Korean mine. In addition to hard to find, heavy rains can cause landmines to move.
“Korea is covered in mountains and it is just not mine friendly terrain. Also mine locations change every time when the rain hits the region hard. That is why the mines are just too risky for today’s army, they are unpredictable,” Shin Yong-tae, a former sargeant with South Korea’s Ranger Company told NK News.
“Only officers or NCOs who are trained diffuse mines. ROK soldiers are told to stay away when mines are found,” Shin added.
In the year 2000, three soldiers were wounded by landmines while patrolling in the nearby Paju area.
In September last year the U.S. changed its policy on the use of anti-personnel landmines, saying it would no longer use them anywhere in the world, with the exception of the Korean Peninsula.
“(T)he unique circumstances on the Korean Peninsula and our commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea preclude us from changing our anti-personnel landmine policy there at this time,” the White House press statement released at the time reads.
There are approximately 1 million landmines in Gyeongi Province, according to landminekorea.org, a research center dedicated to eradicating the use of landmines on the peninsula.
Additional reporting by Ina Yoon and Ha Young Choi
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Featured Image: DMZ (9) by benkucinski on 2010-05-27 18:38:35