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North Korean Captured in Gunfight; Police Search for Second Agent

October 25, 1995

PUYO, South Korea (AP) _ Thousands of soldiers and police swarmed over a remote mountain Wednesday, searching for a North Korean agent who fled a gunfight that killed one policeman and wounded two others.

Authorities said they captured one North Korean 100 miles south of the border Tuesday after the shootout. The search for a second infiltrator was suspended overnight and resumed at daybreak Wednesday.

``We have determined that they are North Korean spies,″ South Korea’s intelligence service said.

It was the second shootout in as many weeks between South Korean police and suspected spies from the North. Last week, authorities said they killed a northern agent, but his two accomplices escaped.

On Wednesday, more than 20,000 soldiers and police cordoned off Taego-bong mountain and the area near the village of Puyo. Soldiers dug foxholes as helicopters buzzed overhead, using loudspeakers to urge residents to report anything suspicious.

As daybreak came, the few cars moving in the area were stopped and inspected. Many shops were closed and students sent home early. The search was expanded to nearby areas in case the man, believed armed with a rifle and silencer-equipped pistol, might have escaped.

Police said the fugitive exchanged fire with troops twice overnight in an attempt to flee.

The captured man, Kim Do Shik, 33, told police Tuesday he slipped into South Korea in August. He refused to answer other questions, officials said.

Television showed his bloodied blue suit jacket. The national news agency Yonhap quoted police as saying they stripped Kim and had to keep him from hurting himself.

Kim later was taken to Seoul. Yonhap Television showed him being carried piggyback into a van, covered under a green blanket. Only his bare feet were visible. Yonhap said he looked ill.

Kim’s capture was especially shocking because it came so soon after the previous infiltration and because he had penetrated so far into the South.

Last week, South Korean guards shot and killed a man they identified as a North Korean infiltrator near the border. A two-day search failed to find two men believed to have accompanied him, but authorities believe they either died or returned to the North.

North Korea has called last week’s incident a South Korean ``fabrication.″ It did not immediately comment on Tuesday’s shootout.

Kim, armed with a pistol and silencer, was captured Tuesday after being wounded in the leg. A police officer was killed and two others seriously injured in the five-minute gunfight.

It was unclear how the incident would affect tense relations on the Korean Peninsula, site of the world’s most heavily armed border.

U.S. and South Korean military officials have said for months that the hard-line communist North might try some kind of provocation to force direct peace talks with Washington that would snub Seoul. An armistice has maintained a shaky peace since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The two Koreas, divided into the communist North and capitalist South after World War II, have remained hostile and remain officially at war.

The United States, which led a U.N. force backing the South after the North invaded in 1950, maintains 37,000 troops in South Korea.

Update hourly