Two South Korean soldiers maimed near the border with North Korea last Tuesday were victims of a North Korean attack, officials say. The South Korean Defense Ministry claims North Korean soldiers crept across the 2.5-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone to plant mines outside the South's guard post near Paju, reports the New York Times. A soldier lost both legs in an explosion involving two mines when he opened the gate of a barbed-wire fence, investigators say. A colleague triggered a second blast and lost a leg when he tried to help, reports CNN. Investigators say the land mines, which used wood boxes, were typical of those from the North and targeted the South's troops. Military officials tell Reuters this is a "cowardly act, which would be unthinkable for a normal military," and "swear a severe retaliation."
Investigators believe the mines were planted between July 22—when the gate was last used—and the day of the attack, the first of its kind in 48 years, South Korean officials say. They find it especially concerning that the infiltrators went undetected, despite closed-circuit and heat-detecting cameras around posts; leafy forests may have shielded them from view. Though hundreds of thousands of land mines were planted around the Demilitarized Zone during and following the Korean War, investigators confirm the ones that caused the recent blasts were newly planted. The South has now resumed broadcasting government messages up to 15 miles into the North via loudspeakers along the border; it had ended the practice a decade ago in an attempt to improve relations. (Read more North Korea stories.)