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Tensions linger on Korean Peninsula after fire exchange

11-24-2010 12:50 BJT Special Report:DPRK, S. Korea Exchange Fire |

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Tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula a day after the exchange of fire in waters off the west coast. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has told the Joint Chiefs of Staff the army will not tolerate the DPRK's shelling.

The alert level is at its second highest in 11 cities and counties near the border, where half of all police are on emergency standby.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Defense Ministry in Seoul on Tuesday.

The day before had seen the most severe fire exchange with the DPRK in 6 decades.

Lee called the incident "an invasion of South Korean territory." He warned that future provocations could be met with a strong response, although there was no indication of immediate retaliation.

Lee Myung-bak, South Korean President, said, "Hundreds of statements and meetings wouldn't work. I think it's a duty for the army to respond with action. We can never tolerate unconditional attacks against civilians."

According to the Joint Chiefs, two soldiers died. 16 others were injured, as well as three civilians.

Relatives of the injured and dead soldiers gathered at a military hospital on the outskirts of Seoul, as helicopters and ambulances arrived carrying injured soldiers and civilians.

The attack set houses and mountain sides on Yeonpyeong Island ablaze, and island residents were evacuated to the mainland.

Lee Chun-Ok, Resident, Yeonpyeong Island, said, "When the bomb went off near my house, and when my house was damaged, I then realized that it was the DPRK who fired. I thought that I would die if I stepped out of the house, so I stayed still."

South Korea accuses the DPRK of firing first at Yeonpyeong.

The DPRK's KRT News agency says that South Korea fired first. It says the South launched artillery shells inside DPRK territorial waters near its Yonphyong Islet off the west coast of the peninsula, around 1:00 pm local time.

Pyongyang has vowed to respond militarily to any further attacks from South Korea.



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