February 04, 2016 11:32
North Korea recently held a massive artillery exercise along the frontlines of its West Sea border, a military source said Wednesday.
Military authorities here have put troops stationed on islands on the West Sea on high alert amid fears of a North Korean provocation along the Northern Limit Line ahead of its looming rocket launch.
The drills fuel speculation after the North's recent nuclear test that military hardliners have gained the upper hand in internal power struggles there. The source said the North's live-fire artillery exercises "went beyond routine drills."
"We are preparing for a North Korean provocation using South Korean artillery drills as an excuse," the source added.
The military has also spotted North Korean coastal batteries ready to fire live ammunition. They are the same that shelled Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.
North Korea apparently completed an observation post on Ari Island, an uninhabited island 12 km northeast of Yeonpyeong Island. A 20-m steel tower is apparently used to monitor Yeonpyeong and surrounding waters.
Officials here believe the observation post enables North Korea to quickly react to movements by South Korean Marines and Navy vessels stationed on Yeonpyeong Island. The North also apparently stationed four 122-mm multiple rocket launchers on Kal Island 4.5km northwest of Yeonpyeong.
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