North Korea fires artillery shells as South Koreans seek bomb shelters on islands

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North Korea’s military fired about 200 projectiles near two South Korean islands in the Yellow Sea on Friday morning, forcing residents to take shelter in nearby bomb shelters, South Korean officials said.

No one was injured, the South’s military said. The North Korean projectiles, fired between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. local time near the South Korean islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong, fell in waters north of the Northern Boundary Line, the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas in the Yellow Sea. .

South Korean marines responded by conducting live-fire drills in the afternoon in the Yellow Sea, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a news release.

Yeonpyeong, located less than 10 miles off the North Korean coast, was the site of a deadly North Korean surprise attack in 2010, when Pyongyang launched dozens of projectiles. Four people were killed, including two South Korean marines serving on the island.

Col. Lee Sung-jun, spokesman for the South’s armed forces, demanded that the North “immediately cease” actions raising tensions, reading aloud from a prepared statement.

Hundreds of civilians living in Yeonpyeong had entered bomb shelters, a county office official said. A total of 2,100 people live there, the official said, including family members of Marines serving in the garrison there. Baegnyeong’s 4,800 residents had also been ordered to stay in bomb shelters, a South Korean official there said.

The shelter-in-place orders were lifted at 3:45 p.m. local time, the two officials said.

The development reflects North Korea’s goal of increasing regional tensions, Lee said. “The responsibility for this heightened state of tensions lies entirely with North Korea,” he added.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has consistently vowed to continue upgrading his nuclear arsenal and military since coming to power more than a decade ago. More recently, Kim said his troops would accelerate efforts to “subdue the entire territory of the South in the event of war,” using “all physical means,” including nuclear weapons, in a statement published by state media late. from last year.

The bombing incident comes as a South Korean army brigade was conducting a multi-day exercise this week with elements of the US Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. according to state broadcaster KBS. The US military maintains 28,500 troops in the South, primarily to deter North Korea, and conduct routine training and field exercises with South Korean soldiers. The North periodically denounces these exercises.

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