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N Korea vows 'merciless military counter-attack' against any provocation

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SEOUL (AFP): North Korea Sunday vowed a “merciless military counter-attack” against any intrusion into its territorial waters as a major US-South Korean naval exercise began well south of the border.

The new threat, from the ruling communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, came five days after the North bombarded a South Korean border island, killing two civilians and two marines and setting homes ablaze.

The North said it opened fire last week after South Korean shells landed in its waters around the tense and disputed Yellow Sea border.

"The DPRK (North Korea) will deal a merciless military counter-attack at any provocative act of intruding into its territorial waters in the future, too," said the paper's commentary carried by the official news agency.

The North rejects the Northern Limit Line (NLL) border drawn by United Nations forces after the 1950-53 war and insists it should run further to the south. The area saw deadly naval battles in 1999, 2002 and last November.

The paper said the South's "provocation" was "part of their vicious scheme to defend the brigandish 'northern limit line' by persistently letting their warships into the territorial waters of the DPRK side under the pretext of 'intercepting fishing boats'."

It said a military alert declared by the South after the shelling was intended to shirk responsibility for the shelling and justify its moves to ignite a war.

"Such moves for confrontation and war with the DPRK made by the puppet war maniacs under the pretext of 'defending northern limit line' will bring nothing but shameful self-destruction to them."

The paper did not mention the joint naval exercise which began some 120 kilometres to the south of the border.

On Saturday the North had warned of unspecified "consequences" if the war games went ahead.

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N Korea  Military  
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