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Two Koreas exchange fire at maritime border

Updated: 2014-03-31 20:43:45 (KST)
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We begin this evening with the latest skirmish between the two Koreas.
Seoul and Pyongyang exchanged fire across the western maritime border Monday, after the North's artillery shells fell into waters in the South.
For more on the renewed tensions on the Korean peninsula we go live to our correspondent Hwang Sung-hee at the Arirang News Center.
Sung-hee, what can you tell us?

The exchange of fire between the two Koreas came to an end at about 3:30 p.m. Korea time.
It all began a little past noon on this Monday after North Korea began live-fire drills in seven West Sea border regions, north of the Northern Limit Line.
South Korea's defense ministry said North Korea fired around 500 artillery shells in waters north of the NLL and that some 100 of those shells fell south of the maritime border in South Korean waters near Baengnyeongdo Island.
In response, the South Korean military shot around 300 artillery shells back across the NLL using K-9 self-propelled howitzers.
Thousands of residents on South Korea's border islands were sent into shelters for cover.
North Korea had notified South Korea of its plans to conduct live-fire drills this morning, not giving a specific time for the planned exercise, but demanding that Seoul keep its vessels out of the training zone.

We hear that the South Korean military is still on high alert in case of follow-up provocations from the North?

Pyongyang says Monday's drills were part of its regular military exercises but South Korea's defense ministry called it a pre-planned provocation.
This is the first time in recent history that the North has conducted a live-fire drill in all seven West Sea border regions.
It's also the first time it's informed the South of the exercise ahead of time.
The ministry said the South Korean military will work closely with the United States and keep close watch for possible clashes.
The South Korean military has activated crisis management operations and has deployed naval convoys near the NLL to cope with any contingencies.

South Korea's presidential National Security Council convened an emergency meeting this evening. What was discussed?

The standing committee of South Korea's National Security Council was briefed on the situation by the defense ministry and discussed the North's motives behind its latest provocations.
The committee, headed by the top presidential security adviser Kim Jang-soo, talked about the possibility of Pyongyang's further provocations and Seoul's plans for a strong and firm response when needed.
The South Korean government will take measures to protect the safety of South Koreans not only near the western maritime border, but also near the demilitarized zone.
It's worth mentioning that this is not the first time the North has fired artillery shells this direction.
In 2010, North Korea launched artillery strikes on a South Korean border island, killing four people.

Thank you for your report, Sung-hee.
That was Arirang News' Hwang Sung-hee with the latest on North Korea's live fire drills.


Reporter : ssung86@arirang.co.kr

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