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Defecting N. Korean soldier ‘critical’

ReutersSEOUL (Reuters) — A North Korean soldier shot while defecting to the South has undergone several surgical procedures and is in a critical condition, South Korea’s government and military said on Tuesday, with doctors expecting to save him.

“Until this morning, we heard he had no consciousness and was unable to breathe on his own but his life can be saved,” said Suh Wook, chief director of operations at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was briefing lawmakers regarding Monday’s event.

Five bullets had been extracted from the soldier’s body so far, leaving an estimated two inside, Suh added.

40 rounds fired

Lee Cook Jong, the surgeon in charge of the soldier’s treatment, told reporters earlier on Tuesday his condition was critical due to intestinal damage caused by the bullets.

The soldier had sped towards the border in a vehicle when a wheel came loose, forcing him to escape on foot under fire from four North Korean soldiers, who shot about 40 rounds at him, Suh said.

North Korea’s military took action when the defector was spotted in the four-wheel drive heading towards the border alone, Roh Jae Cheon, a spokesman for the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a media briefing on Tuesday.Speech

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