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Official: North Korean soldier kills two officers, defects to South

BUSAN, South Korea – A North Korean soldier claimed to have killed two of his officers before defecting to South Korea across their heavily armed border, a South Korean official said.

The defense ministry official said the defection took place about noon Saturday across the western section of the Demilitarized Zone.

The official declined to be identified because an interrogation of the soldier was still under way.

Defections across the Demilitarized Zone, a buffer zone dividing the two Koreas, are rare as the 155-mile land border is heavily armed and tightly guarded. 

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The North Korean claimed that he shot dead his platoon and squad chiefs while on guard duty shortly before his border crossing, according to local media reports. 

Hundreds of North Koreans flee each year across its northern border with China and most make their way to the South, with more than 20,000 having found refuge in the wealthy capitalist neighbor. 

Elizabeth Dalziel / AP

From work to play, see pictures from inside the secretive country.

Most cite economic hardship and political persecution as the main reasons for leaving home. 

The two Koreas are still technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended only with a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

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