Marines 'Overreacted' by Firing at Asiana Flight Near NLL

The Asiana aircraft that marines stationed on Gyodong Island near Incheon fired a barrage of warning shots at on Friday was a regular commercial craft flying a normal route, military officials announced on Sunday.

The guards apparently discharged 99 shots, including two blanks, from their K-2 rifles as an unidentified aircraft approached the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border, mistaking it as a North Korean military aircraft.

Fortunately the plane was 13 km away from the guard post and out of the rifles' range of 2,600 m to 3,300 m, leaving it undamaged.

"An analysis of flight tracks from our radar data confirm that the passenger jet was following a normal route" at the time of the shooting, a military source said on Sunday. "The soldiers saw lights from an unidentified object approaching the NLL. They thought it was an Air Force jet from North Korea and so fired the warning shots," he added.

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs and Asiana Airlines also confirmed that the jet did not deviate from its scheduled route. According to the airliner, it was flying from Chengdu, China. A similar aircraft had passed over the same route about 20 minutes ahead of the shooting.

"The passenger jet was at an altitude of about 1,000 m, within the normal range used for landing at Incheon International Airport," said a spokesperson for the carrier. "We have been using the route since the airport opened over 10 years ago without any problems. The soldiers misjudged the situation and overreacted."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 20, 2011 08:36 KST