N.Korean Shelling 'Aimed for Maximum Damage to Lives, Property'

North Korean coastal artillery batteries fired a considerable number of 122-mm multiple rocket launchers that can kill or wound people or animals at Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday. The MRLs have an extra-high penetration capability and are filled with special gunpowder that causes massive conflagrations.

A military source on Thursday said analysis of about 20 unexploded shells collected from the island showed that many of them are not ordinary 76.2-mm coastal artillery shells but 122-mm MRLs.

These so-called fuel-air shells have deadly killing power, generating high heat and high voltage. Military authorities believe that the North has deployed them warfare-ready since 1985.

A K-9 Marine artillery base on Yeonpyeong Island under attack by North Korea on Tuesday /Courtesy of the Ministry of Defense A K-9 Marine artillery base on Yeonpyeong Island under attack by North Korea on Tuesday /Courtesy of the Ministry of Defense

Analysis of reconnaissance aircraft photographs revealed that the North deployed a 122-mm MRL battalion of its Fourth Army Corps at Kaemori in Kangryong, South Hwanghae Province on the day of the attack. One battalion has 18 MRLs.

This shows how carefully the North premeditated the provocation. Using such shells against civilians lays the North wide open to international condemnation.

Meanwhile, the North Korean military's liaison office at the truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday wrote to the UN Command turning down a proposal for talks about the attack. "The West Sea of Korea has turned into a sea of conflict due to the Northern Limit Line drawn arbitrarily by the U.S. in our territorial waters." The NLL is the de facto maritime border.

"What took place shows that it is South Korea that has violated the armistice agreement and it is the U.S. who has sown the seeds of conflict in the West Sea," it said. "If the U.S. military wants to see tensions on the Korean Peninsula reduced, it should prevent South Korea from launching military provocations, such as maritime incursions and artillery fire to defend the NLL."

It called a regular South Korean military drill in the West Sea a "de facto act of war," adding, "Yeonpyeong Island was subject to severe punishment according to our military's self-defense measures."

englishnews@chosun.com / Nov. 26, 2010 12:36 KST