Tensions Escalate as North Korea Fires 200 Shells Near Yeonpyeong Island
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The Republic of Korea Marine Corps conducts a combat exercise on Yeonpyeong Island in this undated photo. Korea Times file

By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies

In a concerning development, North Korea has reportedly fired approximately 200 shells into the waters near Yeonpyeong Island, prompting authorities to initiate the evacuation of residents from the island. The South Korean military, responding to the North Korean provocations, requested the evacuation as a precautionary measure.

Yeonpyeong Island, home to 2,100 residents, is currently witnessing the evacuation process, with eight evacuation centers in operation to ensure the safety of the island’s inhabitants.

The North Korean coastal artillery fired the rounds into the waters north of the Northern Limit Line, which serves as the maritime border between North and South Korea. The artillery fire occurred between 9 and 11 a.m., causing heightened tensions in the region.

In response to the provocation, South Korea’s Marine Corps announced plans to conduct a fire exercise in the island region. Fortunately, no harm has been reported to South Korean military bases or civilians on the islands, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff emphasized that South Korea would respond with a proportional level of counterforce if further provoked, cautioning North Korea against escalating the crisis. The incident marks North Korea’s first resumption of artillery fire since unilaterally terminating the 2018 inter-Korean agreement.

Col. Lee Sung-joon, a spokesperson for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated, “We sternly caution North Korea that the escalating crisis is entirely their responsibility and strongly urge them to cease immediately.” He added that South Korea is closely cooperating with the United States to monitor the situation.

The maritime border along the Northern Limit Line had been designated as a buffer zone under the inter-Korean military agreement signed in 2018 to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula. However, in November of the previous year, North Korea announced its decision to scrap the agreement in response to the Yoon Suk Yeol government’s decision to suspend certain articles, such as the no-fly zone, arguing that North Korea had not upheld its end of the deal.

The neighboring Baengnyeong Island also received an evacuation order from the military, emphasizing the constant threat faced by the islands in proximity to the maritime border with North Korea. In a tragic incident in November 2010, North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island, resulting in the deaths of four people, including two civilians and two Marines. The international community is closely monitoring the situation, hoping for a swift resolution to prevent further escalation.

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