SEOUL: Seoul on Friday accused North Korea of a “blatant lie” in claiming it had not fired shells near a South Korean warship and said Pyongyang had threatened to bombard its military vessels.
The North’s military earlier Friday had rejected as “sheer fabrication” Seoul’s assertion that it fired two shells in the vicinity of a South Korean navy vessel on patrol near the disputed Yellow Sea border the previous day. Seoul insisted the shells fell about 150 metres (yards) off the South Korean corvette, which was not damaged but responded by firing five rounds into waters near a North Korean military vessel. “The verified fact is that the puppet navy vessel, which intruded deeply into our waters under the pretence of controlling Chinese fishing boats, fired recklessly and lied that we had fired first. This is a sheer fabrication,” the North’s Western Front Command said in a statement.
The command said it was “well prepared to crush ruthlessly” any provocative acts by South Korea, vowing to turn the sea border area into “tombs” for the South’s military. The South’s defence ministry dismissed the North’s claim as a “blatant lie”.”North Korea’s such far-fetched claims are nothing but a blatant lie ... and are subject to ridicule by the international community,” ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said. Seoul also denounced Pyongyang for sending messages continously through an international radio channel, threatening attacks on South Korean military vessels.
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye expressed “very strong regret” and accused Pyongyang of committing a provocation at a time when South Koreans are in grief over last month’s ferry sinking, the president’s office said. The build-up to the incident started Tuesday when a South Korean naval ship fired warning shots to turn back three North Korean patrol boats that crossed the maritime border. The North then threatened Wednesday to attack South Korean warships without warning at the slightest hint of any provocative act, claiming its boats were controlling illegal Chinese fishing north of the unmarked sea border.
MINSK – Negotiators from Ukraine, Russia and Europe on Saturday began peace talks in Minsk ...