August 12, 2011 09:40
North Korea on Thursday denied shelling of waters near the Northern Limit Line close to Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea the previous day. They were not artillery shells but blasting noises from routine construction work in an area in South Hwanghae Province, the regime claimed.
This claim was made by the head of a North Korean delegation to cross-border military talks in a message to his South Korean counterpart. "The South fabricated the case in a bid to ruin the atmosphere of dialogue and damage inter-Korean relations," he wrote.
But the South Korean military said it has "clear evidence" that the North fired artillery shells. It confirmed the location of the shells through its hostile artillery location system or HALO, an acoustic detection device, while the shells were falling.
The South Korean military deployed HALO systems on Yeonpyeong and Baeknyeong islands in July to improve defense capabilities on the northwestern-most islands. The devices are capable of detecting the location of the gun firing the shells and tracking the shell as it moves through the air.
An officer said HALO can locate the sources of artillery fire even in thick fog.
A marine sentry on Yeonpyeong Island also reportedly heard the sound of artillery fire in an area south of the North's Yongmae Island in South Hwanghae Province, from where the shells were fired.
An officer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, "There's a difference between the blast of shells and the blasting noise from construction work. They're easy to tell apart."
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