The Guardian
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N. Korea denies role in landmine attack


north-korea-mapNorth Korea on Friday denied that it was behind a series of mine blasts that maimed two South Korean soldiers earlier this month and triggered a spike in cross-border tensions.

The powerful National Defence Commission said the accusation that its soldiers sneaked across the border and planted the mines along a known patrol route was “absurd.”

“If our army really needed to achieve a military purpose, we would have used strong firearms, not three mines,” the commission said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

The mines were tripped by a South Korean border patrol on August 4 in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) — a buffer zone stretching two kilometres on either side of the actual frontier line dividing the two Koreas.

One soldier underwent a double leg amputation, while another lost a single leg.

Friday’s statement was the North’s first response to the incident.

The UN Command that monitors the ceasefire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War concluded after a special investigation that the devices were North Korean “wooden box” land mines.

It also determined they had been recently laid, ruling out the possibility that there were old mines that had been moved by shifting soil patterns or flooding.

South Korea said it was convinced of the North’s responsibility and warned that Pyongyang would pay a “harsh price” for breaching the ceasefire agreement.

Because the ceasefire was never ratified by a peace treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war.

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