North Korea says it won’t retaliate for South Korean drills
YEONPYEONG ISLAND: Korea calls South Korean artillery drills on a front-line island a "reckless military provocation" but says it won't retaliate, as it had threatened.
The North said Monday after the 90-minute drills ended that it resisted striking back because Seoul changed its firing zones.
The official Korean Central News Agency statement suggested that the North viewed Monday's drills differently from ones last month because South Korean shells landed farther south of the North's shores.
The North shelled Yeonpyeong Island after those drills last month. Two marines and two civilians were killed.
Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
South Korea fired artillery in a 90-minute drill from a front-line island Monday and launched fighter jets to deter attacks after North Korea warned of catastrophic retaliation for the maneuvers.
There was no immediate sign of any North Korean military response during the drill, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.
The South evacuated hundreds of residents near its tense land border with the North and sent residents of islands near disputed waters into underground bunkers amid soaring fears of war.
U.N. diplomats meeting in New York failed to find any solution to the crisis, but there was some sign of diplomacy Monday, as a high-profile American governmor announced what he said were two nuclear concessions from the North.
The live-fire exercises came nearly a month after the North responded to earlier maneuvers by shelling Yeonpyeong island, killing two marines and two civilians in its first attack targeting civilian areas since the 195053 Korean War.
Pyongyang had said it would respond even more harshly to any new drills from the Yellow Sea island, though it added that its strikes would be "unpredictable."
The drills on Yeongpyeong, a tiny enclave of fishing communities and military bases about seven miles (11 kilometers) from North Korean shores, involved several types of weapons including the K-9 self-propelled guns, the Defense Ministry said.
They were witnessed by members of the American-led U.N. Command that oversees the armistice that ended the Korean War.
The North considers waters around Yeonpyeong its own territory. Similar drills on Nov. 23 sparked the North's artillery barrage, after Pyongyang says the South ignored clear warnings to halt the firing.
Before the drills Monday, North Korea threatened again to retaliate, accusing South Korea and the United States of plotting the maneuvers to stage a northward invasion.
"South Korea must know how wretched the consequences it will face" by collaborating with the United States, Pyongyang's state-run Uriminzokkiri website said.
South Korea's military said ahead of Monday's planned drills that it would "immediately and sternly" deal with any provocation by the North.
Fighter jets flew over South Korean airspace on a mission to deter North Korean attacks, a Defense Ministry official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. -Ap