S. Korea issues evacuation order on island as sounds of artillery fire heard

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South Korea's military issued an emergency evacuation order on Yeonpyeong Island toward civilians there as sounds of artillery fire were heard on the island in the tense waters west of the divided Korean Peninsula, local media reported Sunday.

The order, calling civilians on the island to evacuate to shelters, was issued around 11:20 a.m. local time, after several sounds of artillery fire were heard, Seoul's Yonhap News Agency quoted a military source as saying.

However, the order was lifted at around 11:57 a.m. local time, Yonhap said.

Tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula after the two sides exchanged fire last Tuesday in waters near the contentious sea border called the Northern Limit Line (NLL). The artillery clash left four South Koreans dead, while damage to the DPRK still remains unknown.

South Korea and the United States on Sunday launched a four-day joint naval drill in the tense waters, days after the artillery skirmish between South Korea and the DPRK. Calling it "defensive in nature", the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) here said it " demonstrates the strength" of the alliance between Seoul and Washington and their "commitment to regional stability through deterrence."

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