(LEAD) N. Korean naval boats violate western sea border
SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- Two North Korean patrol boats crossed into South Korean waters in separate incidences on Saturday night but retreated after the South Korean Navy fired warning shots, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC) said Sunday.
According to JSC officials, a North Korean naval boat crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea at 10:13 p.m. Saturday and came about 2.2 kilometers into South Korean waters. The North Korean boat sailed back to the North 30 minutes later after receiving a warning communication from the South Korean Navy, they said.
But another North Korean patrol boat violated the western sea border about 47 minutes later at 11:30 p.m., sailing about 2.1 km into South Korean waters, they said. The second boat from the North retreated nine minutes later after the South fired two rounds of warning shots, they added.
It is the first time that a North Korean naval vessel has violated the NLL since the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, near the western sea border on March 26.
The NLL, the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, was drawn by a U.S. commander at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended without a formal peace treaty. North Korea claims the line should be drawn farther south.
"There seemed to be no particular reason behind North Korea's latest maritime border violations, as the North's patrol boats have frequently violated the NLL in the past," said a military official in Seoul.
"But we're closely analyzing the actual intention, as the violations came following the sinking of the Cheonan patrol boat."
Another military official said the North Korean military may have crossed the NLL to gauge the South Korean Navy's reaction in the wake of the Cheonan incident, in which 46 sailors were killed.
The latest provocation came as a joint team of civilian and military investigators in Seoul was set to announce the outcome of their investigation into what caused the sinking around Thursday.
According to government sources, South Korean military authorities have concluded that the sinking of the Cheonan was caused by a North Korean torpedo attack and are planning to issue a statement of stern warning against the communist North by later this week at the earliest.