South Korean soldiers shot and killed three North Koreans today, one day after a group of communist infiltrators had abandoned their damaged submarine on the rocky coast.
The Defense Ministry said the infiltrators were killed during a shootout. Officials said four communist commandos opened fire after South Korean troops spotted them in a deep mountain valley. Searchers returned fire, killing three. The fourth man fled.
Revising its earlier report, the ministry said a man captured during the shootout turned out to be a South Korean civilian, not a North Korean.
Of the 20 North Koreans believed to have been aboard the submarine, found early Wednesday on a reef off Kangnung, 90 miles northeast of Seoul, one has been captured and 14 now are dead.
An intruder was captured near a remote village Wednesday. Eleven others were found dead in a small clearing on a thickly wooded mountain miles away from the submarine. All had been shot in the head.
Ministry officials said it appeared that 10 of the North Koreans were shot by their leader, who then turned his pistol on himself in an apparent suicide pact to avoid being captured by their capitalist enemies.
Thousands of soldiers and police continued to search Thursday for the remaining infiltrators.
The North Korean captive - identified as Li Gwang Su, 31 - told investigators that his submarine lost engine power shortly after leaving its home port of Wonsan on Monday and drifted into South Korean waters.
Investigators said Li refused to disclose where the submarine was headed and what its mission was.
xxxx Infiltrations Other major North Korean infiltrations into South Korea during the past year: Oct. 17, 1995: South Korean soldiers shoot and kill an armed North Korean spotted swimming across the Imjin River that separates the two countries. A two-day manhunt for other infiltrators ends after a North Korean in a wet suit is seen walking toward the North Korean guard post across the border. Oct. 24, 1995: A North Korean agent is captured near Puyo in South Korea. His partner flees, triggering a three-day search that ends when the communist agent is shot to death. July 3, 1996: A North Korean spy is caught after living in South Korea for 12 years, posing as a Filipino professor. Chung Su Il, 62, tells police that “scores, perhaps hundreds” of communist spies are currently operating in South Korea.