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Yellow Sea sees high tension ahead of joint drill

Posted November. 27, 2010 14:16,   


Four days after North Korea shelled South Korea`s front-line island of Yeonpyeong, sounds of gunfire from coastal artillery positions on the North`s Gaemeori area were heard Friday afternoon.

The South Korean military was on heightened alert and Yeonpyeong residents fled the island.

An official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul told reporters that sporadic gunfire was heard at an inland area around Gaemeori from 12:20 p.m. until just past 3 p.m. He said no North Korean shells landed on the South`s territorial land or waters.

Saying the briefing was based on compiled intelligence reports by soldiers guarding Yeonpyeong and other areas, the official said the sounds were from the North Korean military`s regular firing exercise in an inland area.

Another South Korean military official reported six shots heard from the Gaemeori area, noting that the North fired some 20 rounds. He added that the sound of gunfire was heard from the North`s inland areas in regular times.

The gunfire was reportedly not from the coastal artillery.

While the South believes that the inland shots were part of the North`s firing exercise, some say they could be "warning shots" against the planned South Korea-U.S. military exercise to start Sunday.

After the shots, the South Korean military went on heightened alert, while evacuating residents and staff at a power plant on Yeonpyeong. Since the North`s shelling attack, South Korean military authorities have blocked roads leading to military facilities and deployed troops throughout the island.

mhpark@donga.com jmpark@donga.com