Jom Baca

26 November 2010

NKorea warns of "brink of war"

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – North Korea warned Friday that planned U.S.-South Korean military drills are pushing the peninsula to the brink of war as a U.S. military commander toured the wreckage of an island devastated by a North Korean artillery barrage.
Pyongyang's state news agency said drills this weekend involving South Korean forces and a U.S. nuclear powered supercarrier in Yellow Sea waters south of Tuesday's skirmish between the rival Koreas amount to a reckless move to target the North.
"The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war," the dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency said. "Gone are the days when verbal warnings are served only," the agency said, adding that North Korea's army and people are "now greatly enraged" and "getting fully ready to give a shower of dreadful fire."
In a strong show of solidarity with ally Seoul, Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. military commander in South Korea, paid a visit Friday to the island targeted by Tuesday's artillery attack.
Sharp wore a heavy camouflage jacket and a black beret as he walked down a severely damaged street strewn with debris from buildings. Around him were charred bicycles and shattered bottles of soju, a traditional Korean liquor.
Sharp said the attack on Yeonpyeong island was a clear violation of an armistice signed in 1953 at the end of the three-year Korean War. The island of military bases and a civilian population of 1,300 lies about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from South Korea's western port of Incheon, but only 7 miles (11 kilometers) from North Korean shores.
Four South Koreans — two marines and two civilians — were killed in the hour-long skirmish Tuesday after North Korea unleashed a hail of artillery on Yeonpyeong, but the island was quiet Friday morning, with most residents having evacuated to the mainland.
Marines with M-16 rifles patrolled a seawall, while others gazed toward North Korea from a guard post on a cliff. Technicians worked to restore communication lines. Several stray dogs barked near destroyed houses.
The heightened animosity between the Koreas is taking place as the North undergoes a delicate transition of power from leader Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong Un, who is in his late 20s and is expected to eventually succeed his ailing father.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has ordered reinforcements for about 4,000 troops on Yeonpyeong and four other Yellow Sea islands, as well as top-level weaponry for the soldiers and upgraded rules of engagement that would create a new category of response when civilian areas are targeted.

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