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Yeonpyeong Island to be site of new firing drill

Exercise will start in next few days   PLAY AUDIO

Dec 17,2010
South Korea will stage the same live-fire artillery drill off Yeonpyeong Island that it conducted before coming under North Korean attack on Nov. 23 as early as tomorrow, the military announced yesterday.

“The maritime drill has been suspended due to the North’s attack, but we will resume the exercise,” said Army Col. Lee Bung-woo, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Taking into account the weather and other conditions, we will pick a date between Saturday and Tuesday. It will be a single-day exercise.”

The firing exercise is part of South Korea’s routine drills aimed at defending the nation’s northwestern islands, the military said. “It is a legitimate exercise that will take place in our territorial waters south of the western maritime border of the Northern Limit Line,” Lee said. “We will follow ordinary procedures. The information will be announced in advance through the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration’s navigation warning site.”

According to the site, a warning to civilian vessels to stay out of the waters from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Saturday until Tuesday near Yeonpyeong Island was already updated with the coordinates of the firing exercise site.

According to the Joint Chiefs, representatives of the UN Command Military Armistice Commission and UN Command countries were invited to monitor the drill from the site in order to show that the exercise is in accordance with the Korean War armistice.

North Korea has long challenged the NLL as a border. It also blamed the South for firing first into its territorial waters, prompting last month’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

Concerns quickly grew that North Korea would stage an additional provocation after the drill, and an official from the Joint Chiefs made clear that the South Korean military would begin the exercise with full readiness to retaliate against any attack.

“We will stage the drill with a determination to strongly and sternly counter any additional provocation with the joint forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force,” he said.

Residents will be urged to leave the island or to evacuate into shelters during the exercise.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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