Posted January. 28, 2010 08:53,
North Korea yesterday fired dozens of coastal artillery shells on two occasions toward waters near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto inter-Korean border in the Yellow Sea.
Pyongyang had unilaterally declared the waters near the border as a no-sail zone Monday.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said around 30 shells were fired into waters 2.7 kilometers north of the border between 9:05 a.m. and 10:16 a.m.
After detecting coastal artillery shells fired by North Korea through radar, we fired warning shots from shoreline Vulcan cannons, a South Korean military official said. Nevertheless, the North continued firing. So we sent a warning message three times to stop firing from 9:35 a.m.
The Defense Ministry in Seoul also warned of a stern response to Pyongyangs provocation. North Korea, however, said through its state-run Korean Central News Agency around 2 p.m., Nobody can take issue with our annual military drills, adding, Such firing drills by our military will be continued in the Yellow Sea.
The North fired dozens of shells again at waters near the Northern Limit Line at 3:25 p.m. No fishing boat was operating where the shells fell and the operation of passengers ships sailing to and from five islands nearby were not affected, according to Seouls Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The South Korean military, however, began running a contingency team to closely monitor unusual moves by North Korea in the Yellow Sea. The Army, Navy and Air Force strengthened their preparedness for a contingency.
Presidential Chief of Staff Chung Chung-kil convened an emergency national security meeting at 10:30 a.m., which included Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, and National Intelligence Service Deputy Director Park Seong-do.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who departed from India for Switzerland yesterday, was briefed on the situation and ordered his chief of staff Chung Chung-kil to chair the meeting.
Presidential spokesman Park Sun-kyoo said, The firing of coastal artillery shells is a clear provocation against us so we agreed to take stern measures in a calm manner.
Separately, Unification Minister Hyun said scheduled inter-Korean talks will not be affected by the incident. Inter-Korean working-level meetings will be held as scheduled at the Kaesong industrial complex, he said.
A ministry official added, We will send to North Korea as planned 10,000 tons of corn and hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of swine flu there.