Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

S. Korea opens fire after North artillery shelling

South Korean marines returned fire Wednesday after North Korea launched artillery shells into waters near the disputed maritime line that separates the two rivals, South Korean defence officials said.

The three North Korean shells fired near the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea prompted the South to fire three shells back, Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. Both sides' shells landed in the water, and there were no reports of casualties.

South Korean forces have been on high alert in the area since a North Korean artillery attack killed four people in November on South Korea's Yeonpyeong island. Wednesday's artillery exchange, which happened in hazy weather, was near that island.

The firing follows a recent easing of animosity between the Koreas and could be a warning about joint U.S.-South Korean military drills set for next week.

Last month, a senior North Korean diplomat met with U.S. officials in New York to negotiate ways to restart long-stalled international talks aimed at persuading the North to abandon its nuclear weapons aspirations. The meeting came after the Koreas' nuclear envoys held cordial talks during a regional security forum in Indonesia.

Another South Korean Defence Ministry official, who refused to be named because of office policy, said South Korean forces stepped up their monitoring of the North after Wednesday's artillery exchange.

South Korean marines on Yeonpyeong returned fire after North Korea fired from one of its front-line islands, the official said. (more)