NKorea troops boast of ar­tillery attacks on SKorea

The Pak Banker - - 6i Nternational -

SEOUL: North Korean sol­diers boasted on state tele­vi­sion they bom­barded a front­line South Korean is­land with ar­tillery last month as im­me­di­ate re­tal­i­a­tion af­ter the South fired first.

The two Koreas have ramped up their rhetoric since the Nov. 23 at­tack killed four South Kore­ans on Yeon­pyeong Is­land near their tense western sea border. North Korea has said it fired af­ter South Korean shells landed in its wa­ters, while the South has said its rou­tine fir­ing drill aimed away from the sea fron­tier and should not have pro­voked an at­tack.

North Korea's war of words in­ten­si­fied around Fri­day's 19th an­niver­sary of leader Kim Jong Il's ap­point­ment as the North's supreme mil­i­tary com­man­der. Kim's mil­i­tary chief threat­ened last week to launch a "sa­cred" nu­clear war against the South.

On Fri­day, North Korean sol­diers ap­peared on a state TV pro­gram mark­ing Kim's ap­point­ment an­niver­sary and bragged of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ar­tillery bar­rage.

"Our eyes were full of fire right af­ter we saw the en­emy's shells be­ing fired into our sa­cred wa­ters," sol­dier Kim Moon Chol said, clinch­ing his fists and stand­ing shoul­der-toshoul­der with three uni­formed col­leagues. Their ranks were un­known.

"At the or­der of 'fire,' we poured our mer­ci­less thun­der­bolt of fire at the en­emy," he said in a loud, or­a­tory-style speech.

A sol­dier whose uni­form was full of mil­i­tary dec­o­ra­tions expressed his loy­alty to Kim Jong Il.

"Fac­ing the en­emy's provo­ca­tion, we shouted, 'Let's ded­i­cate our lives to fight­ing the en­emy and giv­ing them a mer­ci­less death for our dear leader and supreme mil­i­tary com­man­der,'" Kim Ky­ong Su said.

Their speeches con­stantly drew ap­plause from the au­di­ence - mostly uni­formed sol­diers who spoke sep­a­rately and vowed to get tougher with South Korea. They all later sang a mil­i­tary song to­gether.

South Korea has staged a se­ries of mil­i­tary drills - in­clud­ing one on Yeon­pyeong Is­land on Dec. 20 - in a show of force against the North. The South's Pres­i­dent Lee Myung­bak, dur­ing a visit to front-line troops Thurs­day, said that South Korea must make "un­spar­ing" re­tal­i­a­tion if it suf­fers an­other sur­prise at­tack.

South Korea plans new rou­tine naval fir­ing ex­er­cises start­ing Mon­day, but not on Yeon­pyeong and other border is­lands, ac­cord­ing to the De­fense Min­istry.

The North's state me­dia said Sun­day that the South's Dec. 20 drills on Yeon­pyeong showed its in­ten­tion to fight North Korea to the end. -Ap

KABUL: French De­fence Min­is­ter Alain Juppé (2nd R) poses with French sol­diers dur­ing Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions at a mil­i­tary base in Kabul. -Ap

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