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(LEAD) Military to hold firing drills near border island next week
SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military plans to conduct large-scale artillery firing drills in seas around the Korean Peninsula, including waters close to the Yellow Sea border, starting Dec. 6, seeking to beef up its defense readiness posture against any possible additional provocations by North Korea, officials said Tuesday.

   According to officials at the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) has issued an advisory to local vessels planning to navigate 29 locations in waters around the peninsula from Dec. 6-12.

   The 29 locations include 16 in the Yellow Sea, seven in the East Sea and six in the South Sea, the officials said.

   They noted that the 16 Yellow Sea locations do not include waters close to Yeonpyeong Island, which was attacked by North Korea's deadly artillery shells on Nov. 23.

   Instead, Daecheong Island, close to Baengnyeong Island and located just south of the Yellow Sea border, was included among the venues of the naval firing drills, the officials said.

   "Naval warships plan to conduct firing exercises in waters southwest of Daecheong Island," an official for the JCS said.

   Next week's naval firing drills, which will follow the large-scale South Korea-U.S. joint naval exercises scheduled to continue through Wednesday, are expected to further increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

   North Korea's artillery attacks on Yeonpyeong Island came hours after the communist state denounced South Korea's live-fire artillery drill around the West Sea island as a violation of its territorial waters.

   Government sources said that the military also has a plan to conduct shooting exercises in waters off Yeonpyeong Island in the immediate future.

   Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that the military is now seeking to choose an appropriate time for live fire exercises in waters off Yeonpyeong Island.

  
South Korean Marine's K-9 self-propelled gun during a recent firing drill. (Yonhap file photo)


ycm@yna.co.kr
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