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Inter-Korean Naval Clash Erupts in Yellow Sea

Posted November. 11, 2009 08:24,   


An inter-Korean naval clash broke out yesterday morning near the Northern Limit Line, the Yellow Sea border that extends from the tense Demilitarized Zone dividing the two countries.

South Korea suffered no casualties, while the North Korean vessel retreated home half-demolished by bombardment.

This was the first inter-Korean naval skirmish since June 29, 2002.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said a North Korean patrol boat crossed the sea border at 11:27 a.m. in waters 11.6 kilometers northeast off the South’s Daecheong Island.

Two South Korean naval vessels were quickly deployed to the area and issued warnings to the North Korean boat. As the North Korean ship continued to go south, the South fired warning shots under the rule of engagement.

The North Korean vessel fired back some 50 rounds, prompting a return of fire and causing the North`s ship to retreat home.

South Korean Rear Admiral Lee Ki-sik told reporters that about 15 of the 50 rounds fired by the North Korean ship hit a South Korean boat in the two-minute conflict, but that the vessel sustained no human or equipment damage.

Another South Korean military official said the North Korean vessel returned home giving off black fumes.

An intelligence source in Seoul said at least one North Korean serviceman was killed, with three injured.

“This is a regrettable incident in which the North Korean patrol ship violated the Northern Limit Line and directly fired at us,” Rear Admiral Lee said, urging the North not to stage a recurrence.

Though Chinese fishing boats were nearby, Lee said he was unsure if the North Korean patrol ship came south to crack down on illegal fishing.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul put the entire South Korean military on alert in the event of further provocation.

Around 11:45 a.m., South Korean President Lee Myung-bak phoned Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and ordered him to do everything to strengthen national security posture.

The president also urged calm to ensure that the naval clash did not escalate further. He then convened a meeting of security-related ministers around 1:30 p.m.

In the North, the North Korean People’s Army said in a statement released through the official Korean Central News Agency, “A group of warships from South Korean forces fired at our naval vessel."

It said the ship was returning to its base after checking an unidentified target violating North Korean waters.

The North also urged the South to apologize for its “armed provocation” and prevent a recurrence.