DPRK starts live-fire drill near inter-Korean border

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea set off its live-fire drill Tuesday afternoon near the disputed inter-Korean border islands, about a month after conducting the same drill.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official told Xinhua that Pyongyang started the pre-noticed live-fire drill at 2 p.m. local time.

According to the coordinates sent by the DPRK military on fire areas, Pyongyang was conducting exercises north of the western inter-Korean sea border near Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong islands, the military official said by phone.

The two South Korean islands have been a hotspot on the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK fired shells at Yeonpyeong in November 2010, killing four people. In March 2010, a South Korean navy corvette Cheonan sank in waters near the Baengnyeong Island, killing 46 soldiers.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a routine press briefing earlier that the Southwestern Command of the Korean People's Army sent a fax to the South Korean Navy's Second Fleet at 8:52 a.m., which notified the live-fire drill near the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

Kim said the military will fire in response its artillery shells toward waters north of the sea border if DPRK's shells fall on its territorial waters, calling the live-fire drill as provocative.

People on the border islands have been evacuated, and four South Korean fighter jets scrambled to prepare for possible provocations such as shells landing in the islands.

The DPRK was known to have fired self-propelled artillery shells from coastal battery positions toward waters just north of the western inter-Koran sea border. No shells landing in waters south of the maritime border has been reported yet.

It was the second time in a month that the DPRK has carried out such live-fire drills. On March 31, the DPRK shot hundreds of rounds of shells with its artillery guns just north of the NLL, and some of them reportedly fell in South Korean territorial waters. The South Korean military fired back at the north with its K-9 self-propelled howitzers.


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