A mine field warning sign hangs in part of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) near Seoul in 2013. A land mine explosion on Tuesday critically injured two South Korean soldiers on routine patrol. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Two South Korean soldiers on routine patrol in the DMZ were critically injured on Tuesday when a land mine exploded along the heavily guarded border with North Korea.
The explosion took place at 7:40 a.m. near the South Korean city of Paju as the soldiers took part in search operations, Seoul Economic Daily reported.
The two soldiers, identified by their surnames Kim and Ha, suffered serious injuries to their legs that were "torn away," according to a spokesman at the South Korean military.
Shards of the land mine had lodged inside their bodies at the time of impact, and the two were transported by air to a military hospital for treatment, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported,
The military spokesman said the recent heavy rains may have loosened the land mines, and the explosive that detonated on Tuesday was located in a "cleared path."
Seoul said the impact of the explosion and the kind of injuries the weapon inflicted on the soldiers indicated the land mine is not of North Korean origin.
The military spokesman said North Korean land mines are bigger in size and have greater "killing power."
The one that exploded Tuesday was identified as an M14 antipersonnel land mine, South Korean news network YTN reported.
The M14 land mine uses a spring to flip a firing pin downward into a stab detonator when pressure is applied and is made of plastic and weighs less than 4 ounces – making it susceptible to loosening and traveling across soil surfaces during periods of heavy rain.
South Korea has placed 700,000 land mines in the DMZ and it is estimated North Korea has planted 500,000 explosives there.