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S Korea vows immediate retaliation against N Korea's firing


South Korean military conducting a live firing exercise. A file photo

SEOUL (AFP): South Korea Tuesday vowed as part of a new military directive to retaliate immediately if North Korea fires across the disputed sea border, amid simmering tensions on the peninsula.

Defence minister Kim Tae-Young said South Korean troops had been ordered to launch a powerful counter-attack if North Korea fires shells into Seoul-controlled waters.

The order was in line with new combat policy for South Korean troops guarding the volatile sea border, he told a parliamentary defence committee.

Previous guidelines required South Korean troops to issue warnings three times before opening fire.

The North fired an artillery barrage into disputed inter-Korean waters in the Yellow Sea on August 9 after the South ended its largest-ever anti-submarine exercise.

Military officials said the North fired about 130 shells, ignoring warnings from the South.

Most of the shells landed on the northern side of the borderline but some fell on the southern side. South Korean troops did not fire back.

Tensions have been high between the two countries after the sinking of a South Korean warship in March with the loss of 46 lives.

Seoul says a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine caused the loss of the Cheonan near disputed waters off the western coast, an allegation that Pyongyang has vehemently denied.

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