Seoul dismisses North shell claims

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Seoul dismisses North shell claims

Seoul yesterday dismissed North Korea’s accusation that it fabricated reports of Northern artillery fire landing in waters near South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island the day before.

Pyongyang, in a statement sent to the South yesterday morning, said the sounds of artillery fire were “explosions made during construction.”

Earlier in the day, the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported that “regular blasts” from “brisk construction of a gigantic object” in South Hwanghae Province “near the five islands on the Yellow Sea” had been ongoing for some time.

“The warmongering South Korean puppet regime fabricated the situation to say our military had made a provocation then engaged in shameful conduct of making a military response,” said the report.

The Ministry of National Defense brushed aside the statement and report from the North yesterday, saying it had no plans to make an official response.

On Wednesday afternoon, South Korea returned artillery fire after three North Korean shells reportedly landed near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the disputed maritime border. The South detected two more shells later that day and responded by firing three more rounds in the area.

Military officials said the rounds fired by South Korea were in accordance with regulations and were in response to shots fired from the North. The locations of where the shells landed were also confirmed by the South Korean military, officials said.

The report from the KCNA drew parallels between the incident and the sinking of the Cheonan, which it called “the first and biggest fabrication in the nation’s history,” as well as the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, which North Korea insists was done in retaliation after the South fired first.

The North also said that South Korea was “looking for excuses to attack [North Korea],” mentioning the recent investigations into an alleged North Korean espionage group and reports of an assassination order on the South’s defense minister.

The U.S. State Department also called on the North to “exercise restraint” yesterday.

North Korea’s artillery firing on Wednesday did not appear to be as organized as last year’s provocation against Yeonpyeong Island, military officials said, leading some to believe it was due to a power structure in flux from the ongoing succession process.

“Such North Korean provocations are not unrelated to the conflict between military officials from Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il’s generation and military officials from Kim Jong-un’s generation ahead of the third-generation succession,” said Hong Joon-pyo, leader of the ruling Grand National Party, at the National Assembly.

By Christine Kim []

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

해안포 쏜 김격식 “발파 소리” 오리발

북한은 서해 연평도 인근 북방한계선(NLL) 쪽으로 10일 두 차례 실시했던 포 사격에 대해 “대상물 건설을 위한 발파 작업을 오해한 것”이라는 주장을 담은 전화통지문을 11일 우리 측에 보내왔다. 이름을 밝히지 않은 남북 군사실무회담 북측 단장 명의로다.

이에 앞서 북측 단장은 이날 새벽 조선중앙통신에 “발파 소리에 놀란 남조선 괴뢰 군부 호전광들이 상황을 날조하고, 이를 구실로 군사적 대응 행동에 나서는 추태를 부렸다”고 주장했다. 북측 단장은 또 “안으로는 각종 간첩단 사건, 보안법 위반 사건, 암살음모 사건을 조작하는 등 반공화국 대결 분위기를 고취하고 있다”고 말했다. ‘암살음모 사건 조작’은 본지 보도(8월 11일자 1, 6면)를 통해 알려진 북한의 김관진(62) 국방부 장관 암살 움직임을 지칭하는 것으로 보인다. 북측 입장은 미 국무부 빅토리아 뉼런드 대변인이 정례브리핑에서 “북한에 자제를 촉구한다”고 말한 직후 나왔다.

 이에 대해 국방부 당국자는 “관측장비를 통해 북한의 포 사격을 확인했고 우리 측의 대응 사격은 정당한 조치였다”고 밝혔다.

 북한의 이번 포격을 주도한 군 지휘라인은 김정일(69) 국방위원장-이영호(69) 총참모장(우리의 합참의장)-김격식(71) 4군단장이다. 김정일 후계자인 김정은 노동당 중앙군사위 부위원장이 어떤 식으로 개입하고 있는지는 아직 파악되지 않고 있다. 특히 김격식이 2009년 초 서해·황해도를 관할하는 4군단장에 취임한 이후 그해 11월 대청해전, 지난해 3월과 11월의 천안함 사건과 연평도 포격 등 이 잇따랐던 만큼 이번에도 그가 지휘했을 것으로 군 당국은 보고 있다.

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