'South Korea to stage live-fire drill'
Tue, 03 May 2011 09:21:29 GMT
South Korea is planning to launch live-fire exercises near the Yellow Sea border with North Korea in the coming week.
A defense ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday that the military drills will be performed on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong Islands but refused to reveal more details, AFP reported.
However, Dong-A Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, has said marine soldiers will fire K-9 self-propelled howitzers, Vulcan cannons and 81mm mortars.
About 10 US military commanders from Japan's Okinawa base are also expected to join the maneuver, the newspaper said.
Next week's drill will be the second live-fire exercise on the sea border this year. The previous drills passed without incident despite threats from the North to take retaliatory measures to the South's “act of provocation.”
Tensions have been running high on the Korean Peninsula since the South accused the North of torpedoing one of its warships in March 2010. A total of 46 South Korean sailors died in the incident. The North has denied involvement in the attack.
The Koreas' strained relations entered a new phase in November, when the two sides exchanged fire followed by North's shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.
South Korea says it returned fire after North Korean forces shelled one of its islands, but the North says the South fired first. Two South Korean troops and two civilians lost their lives in the clashes.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on North Korea to strengthen ties with the South through negotiations.
"We would like to see them (North Korea) engaging in meaningful dialogue with the South in the first instance, prior to any other steps that might be taken, "Clinton said.