November 11, 2009 08:48
Naval ships of the two Koreas exchanged fire in waters near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto inter-Korean border, in the West Sea on Tuesday morning. The North Korean patrol boat retreated, half-destroyed.
The South Korean Navy sustained no casualties, but the North Korean Navy reportedly suffered four casualties -- at least one killed and three wounded. This was the third skirmish in the West Sea after similar ones on June 15, 1999 and June 29, 2002.
The South Korean military noted that the North Korean patrol boat crossed the NLL after ignoring five warnings on and fired about 50 rounds in response to the South Korean warning shots. It suspects the incursion was a deliberate provocation.
Commodore Lee Ki-shik, director of intelligence operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), said the engagement lasted two minutes from 11:37 to 11:39 a.m. on Tuesday, and the two boats were 3.2 km apart at the time. The JCS has raised the alert level of the entire military for fear of additional provocations or retaliatory attacks.
North Korea's top military command issued a statement asking the South Korean military to "apologize for the latest armed provocation and take responsible steps to prevent the recurrence of similar provocative acts in the future." The South Korean Navy "perpetrated a grave armed provocation in our waters," the statement added.
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