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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Asia

S Korea fires warning shots after N. Korean incursion

AFP | Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A fisherman sits on his boat in a small port on the island of Baengnyeong, which lies on the South Korean side of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), in the Yellow Sea April 11, 2014. Local fishermen, many of whom have been on the islands for generations, have had their fishing grounds vastly restricted by the Northern Limit Line. The Northern Limit Line, a disputed maritime border that wraps itself round a part of the North's coastline, has been the scene of frequent clashes between South and North Korea.

SEOUL - A South Korean naval ship fired warning shots Tuesday after three North Korean patrol boats crossed over the disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea, military officials said.

The North Korean boats, which normally serve to keep fishing boats on the right side of the boundary, crossed into South Korean waters at 0700 GMT, the South's joint chiefs of staff said.

The incursion prompted a South Korean naval ship to fire 10 warning rounds, after which the North Korean vessels retreated to the North side of the border, it said.

Yonhap news agency said the North Korean boats might have been chasing some Chinese boats fishing illegally in the area.

It is not uncommon for North Korean patrol boats and fishing boats to cross the unmarked sea border into the South.

Two North Korean patrol boats violated the sea border last month, just before US President Barack Obama arrived in Seoul for a two-day visit.

The North does not officially recognise the Yellow Sea boundary, the scene of brief but bloody naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

The Korean conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty and technically the two Koreas are still at war.

In March, North Korea fired hundreds of shells in a live exercise near the sea boundary. About 100 shells dropped into South Korean territorial waters, and South Korea responded with volleys of shells into North Korean waters.

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