April 22, 2010 08:44
Military intelligence early this year alerted the Navy to the threat of "human torpedo" attacks from North Korea, which was pledging revenge for its defeat in a sea skirmish in November last year, it emerged Wednesday.
"Human torpedoes" are underwater suicide squads who operate torpedoes equipped with a mini motor or engine to sneak up to a target and blow it up.
"Military authorities detected several signs showing that the North was preparing for revenge for its defeat in the sea skirmish in November last year," a government official said. "The North intensively trained military units for various means of attack, in particular human torpedoes."
The North is reportedly operating a brigade of suicide attack squads each in its East Sea and West Sea fleets. But it is still unclear whether the Navy corvette Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean human torpedo on March 26.
Navy ships charged with defending the maritime frontline in the West Sea were ordered to keep at speeds faster than 12 knots to guard against any retaliatory attack from the North, but the Cheonan was traveling at only six knots before it sank, the official added. "Despite the possibility of retaliatory attacks, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had deployed Navy ships on duty at the West Sea frontline including Baeknyeong, Yeonpyeong and Socheong islands, closer to the frontline than in the past."
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