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Originally published Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 3:22 AM

Red Cross: North demands back 9 defectors in South

The Red Cross in South Korea says North Korea has demanded the immediate return of nine citizens Seoul says defected in boats over the weekend.

The Associated Press

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SEOUL, South Korea —

The Red Cross in South Korea says North Korea has demanded the immediate return of nine citizens Seoul says defected in boats over the weekend.

South Korea has said the nine people who crossed the tense western sea border in two small boats Saturday want to resettle in the South.

The Red Cross says in a statement its North Korean counterpart sent a message Thursday requesting the return of the nine people and their boats.

Earlier this year, the North was furious when four of 31 North Koreans who were on a boat that drifted into southern waters refused to return home. North Korea says the four were held against their will.

Seoul says more than 21,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War.

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