North Korea says it won’t re­tal­i­ate for South Korean drills

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

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

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