S Korean soldier who killed comrades 'stable'

2014-06-24 12:45
(Yonhap, Hwang Kwang-mo, AP)

(Yonhap, Hwang Kwang-mo, AP)

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Seoul - A South Korean soldier who killed five comrades was in a stable condition on Tuesday after an apparent suicide bid, doctors said, as details emerged of a final note he wrote regretting his actions.

The 22-year-old sergeant, surnamed Lim, was captured on Monday after a 24-hour standoff with thousands of troops ended when he shot himself in the chest.

"He is in a stable condition and is fully conscious," Kim Jin-Yup, a doctor at Gangneung Asan Hospital told reporters.

"He should recover soon," he added.

Lim opened fire on members of his own unit at a guard post near the border with North Korea on Saturday, killing five and wounding seven.

He fled with a rifle and a stash of ammunition, sparking a massive manhunt involving thousands of soldiers and police who finally cornered him in a forested area 10 kilometres away.

Seoul's defence ministry spokesperson Kim Min-Seok said Lim had written a note before shooting himself.

"He apologised to his own family and the families of the victims, and expressed regret over what he did," Kim told reporters.

The note made no mention of Lim's motives for turning his gun on his fellow soldiers.

Army sources said Lim had difficulty adapting to the military, and psychological evaluators had advised senior officers to pay him special attention.

Many of the South Korean soldiers on border duty are young male recruits doing their mandatory two-year military service.

Lim and most of the victims and the injured were such conscripts who were teenagers or in their early 20s.

Bullying in the barracks has long tarnished the country's armed forces, and been blamed for suicides and similar shooting incidents in the past.

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