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S Korea, DPRK exchange fires in waters off west coast of Korean Peninsula

11-24-2010 07:37 BJT Special Report:DPRK, S. Korea Exchange Fire |

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday exchanged fires in waters off the west coast of the divided Korean Peninsula, at least two South Korean marines were killed and 16 others injured.

Smoke is seen at Yeonpyeong island near the border against the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK), in South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae released a statement late Tuesday, "strongly" condemning the DPRK's " unprovoked artillery firing against Yeonpyeong Island".

Calling it as "indisputable armed provocation" against South Korea, Cheong Wa Dae said "It even indiscriminately fired against civilians. Such actions will never be tolerated."

According to Cheong Wa Dae, Seoul's military will "retaliate against any additional acts of provocation in a resolute manner," and the DPRK "will have to take full responsibility for the incident."

Fired at around 2:34 p.m. local time (0534 GMT), some shells landed on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island near the contentious sea border called Northern Limit Line (NLL), between the two sides, Seoul's Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) confirmed to Xinhua.

South Korea fired some 80 artillery shells back in response, according to Seoul's defense minister Kim Tae-young.

The incident has claimed two South Korean soldiers' lives so far, and wounded 16 others, local media quoted military source as saying.

According officials in Seoul, the military of South Korea is now put on a heightened alert. It is also reportedly the military deployed fighter jets to the Yellow Sea in deterrence against further provocation from the North.

However, the DPRK's military said in a statement issued late Tuesday that the Korean People's Army (KPA) countered the South Korean artillery firing on Tuesday afternoon, according to Pyongyang's official news agency KCNA.

South Korean troops fired into the waters of DPRK with dozens of shells at 1 p.m. local time (0400 GMT), and the KPA responded immediately to the South Korean military provocation with " determined military measures", it said.

The clash came at a time when South Korea is engaged in massive annual military exercises involving some 70,000 troops, launched Monday and scheduled to last through Nov. 30.

Some interpret the firing as a show of protest by Pyongyang against the ongoing annual military exercises. The DPRK has sent a message earlier to the South denouncing the drills for potentially targeting it.

South Korea and the DPRK have remained at odds on the so-called NLL, which was fixed unilaterally by the U.S.-led United Nations Command after the 1950-1953 Korean War. South Korea holds the NLL as the de-facto western inter-Korean border, but the DPRK rejected the NLL and only recognized the demarcation line it drew in 1999, which was further south of the NLL.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing Tuesday in Beijing that China had taken note of reports about an exchange of fire between South Korea and the DPRK, urging related sides to do things conducive to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.

The spokesman also urged the parties concerned to keep calm and restraint, and to make joint efforts for the peace and stability on the peninsula.




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