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2 NK Patrol Boats Enter S. Korean Waters

Posted May. 17, 2010 06:38,   


Two North Korean patrol boats entered South Korean waters Saturday night but retreated after the South Korean Navy fired warning shots.

The incidents were the first violations of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto inter-Korean sea border, since the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel Cheonan March 26.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said Sunday that a North Korean patrol boat crossed the border around 10:13 p.m. Saturday, going 2.5 kilometers into South Korean waters. The ship returned to the North 30 minutes after receiving a warning from the South Korean Navy.

The North Korean boat initially reacted by issuing its own warning, the first act of its kind by the North, claiming that a South Korean naval vessel was violating North Korean territorial waters.

The second North Korean patrol boat sailed 2.3 kilometers into South Korean waters about 47 minutes later at 11:30 p.m. It continued to go south despite the South Korean Navy’s warning, only to retreat nine minutes later after the South fired two warning shots, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Military and civilian experts in the South say Pyongyang was testing Seoul’s response posture, which was changed since the Cheonan sinking. The Cheonan is believed to have been sunk by a North Korean torpedo. For two North Korean patrol boats to violate the sea border in the same zone in less than an hour is considered unusual.

The South Korean Navy put all of its troops on nearby Baengnyeong Island on alert and sent a helicopter to the area as the North Korean patrol boats violated the border Saturday. In addition, the South Korean Air Force also got ready for a sortie in the event of an emergency.