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(LEAD) N Korea vows retaliation if S. Korea conducts live-fire drills near border
By Sam Kim
SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea vowed Friday to retaliate with greater firepower if South Korea goes ahead with its planned live-fire drills from the frontline island that has been devastated by North Korean shelling.

   "Second and third self-defensive blows that cannot be predicted will be dealt" if South Korea conducts the one-day drills scheduled between Saturday and Tuesday, the North's military said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   "The intensity and range of the firepower will create a situation more serious than one on Nov. 23" when the North shelled the Yeonpyeong island in the Yellow Sea and killed two marines and two civilians, the North said.

   North Korea fired about 170 shells to attack the island, prompting the South to fire back but with no clear success in retaliation. South Korea has vowed to make the North pay back.

   "The South Korean puppet warmongers must immediately cancel the provocative coastal live-fire drills planned on Yeonpyeong," the unnamed head of the North's colonel-level military delegation said.

   The KCNA said the warning was delivered to the South's defense ministry at around noon on Friday, calling the sea surrounding the small island part of "our sacred territorial waters."

   North Korea has said any shells fired from Yeonpyeong are bound to violate its waters because the country does not respect the Yellow Sea border drawn by a U.S. general at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce.

   samkim@yna.co.kr
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