Troubled Waters: Two Koreas Exchange Fire

Touching off grave regional concerns, naval ships from North and South Korea exchanged fire in disputed waters on Tuesday. The incident the first in nearly seven years occurred when a South Korean vessel opened fire at a Northern ship that it said crossed a disputed sea border.

The North Korean vessel retaliated.

Seeking an apology North Korea, however, insists that its ship did not cross the border.

The North said a patrol boat was on a mission to confirm “an unidentified object” on the North’s side of the border, and while it was sailing back, South Korean ships chased it and opened fire in what it described as a “grave armed provocation”.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak addressing an emergency security meeting urged the military to ensure that the naval clash did not escalate into something greater, reported Yonhap.

South Korea said it issued three verbal warnings to ship from the north once the vessel had crossed a demarcation line late Tuesday morning.

Officials said the South Koreans opened fire after the ship continued to sail southward despite a warning shot fired by the South.

Previous Clashes

1996: A North Korean submarine runs aground in South Korean waters

1998: South Korea captures a North Korean mini-submarine in its waters

1999: At least 17 North Korean sailors believed killed in naval fire fight

2002: Four South Korean sailors and an estimated 30 North Koreans killed in a naval battle

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