YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – South Korea fired live artillery today in a drill from a front-line island where similar exercises sparked a deadly North Korean bombardment last month, pressing forward in defiance of the North’s warnings to attack again.
The South sent fighter jets to skies along the border to deter any new North Korean attack and evacuated island residents to underground bunkers, nearly a month after the North’s shelling of Yeongpyeong island killed two marines and two civilians. The North has said it would respond even more harshly to any new drills from the Yellow Sea island.
The North considers waters around Yeonpyeong its own territory. Similar drills on Nov. 23 sparked the North’s artillery barrage that marked its first attack targeting civilian areas since the 1950-’53 Korean War.
Residents, local officials and journalists on Yeonpyeong and four other islands were ordered to evacuate to underground shelters because of possible attacks by North Korea, Ongjin County government spokesman Won Ji-young said.
In South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province, 42 residents of farming communities near the tense land border were evacutated. The Defense Ministry said the artillery drills would last about two hours and involve several types of weapons, including K-9 self-propelled guns, ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters, according to his office.