Four South Koreans hurt when North fires into sea: Report

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SEOUL - Four South Korean soldiers were wounded Tuesday when North Korea fired artillery at a South Korean island near the two countries’ border in the Yellow Sea, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, citing military officials.

The North fired dozens of rounds, some of which landed on Yeonpyeong island, Yonhap quoted Colonel Lee Bung Woo, spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, as saying.

The South returned fire, targeting an artillery position on the North’s coast, the Defence Ministry in Seoul said.

Homes were damaged on Yeonpyeong, South Korea’s YTN television said.

About 1,000 South Korean soldiers are stationed on the island, which lies 12 km from North Korea’s coast. It has been a source of tension between the two neighbours because of its location and rich fishing grounds, and naval clashes have occurred nearby.

Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang have deteriorated this year after a South Korean warship sunk in March in the Yellow Sea also near the inter-Korean border. Forty-six sailors were killed. Seoul blamed Pyongyang for their deaths, but the North has denied involvement.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak called an emergency meeting of ministers with security-related portfolios to discuss how to respond to the fire while a Unification Ministry official told Yonhap that the South was considering evacuating its citizens out of North Korea.

Few foreigners visit isolated, Stalinist North Korea, but South Koreans work there at an industrial park operated by both Koreas at the border town of Kaesong and at the Mount Kumgang resort.

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