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Iran Press TV

South Korea stages major drill near sea border with North

Iran Press TV

Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:35AM

South Korea has begun a major live-fire military drill near the disputed sea border with North Korea, amid warnings of a "merciless" retaliation by Pyongyang.

The Defense Ministry in Seoul said on Monday that the South Korean military units carried out the drill around islands in the Yellow Sea, a disputed area and the scene of sporadic border incidents since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

The ministry has yet to disclose any detail about the drill, which marks the anniversary of North Korea's deadly shelling of one of the islands some five years ago. The attacks on November 23, 2010 on Yeonpyeong Island killed four South Koreans including two civilians, sparking fears of a full-fledged war.

The military exercise is the latest of several such drills by South Korea near the Yellow Sea islands. The disputed maritime boundary was established at the end of the war by UN forces although Pyongyang has never recognized it.

North Korea's military threatened on Sunday to show a "merciless" retaliation if artillery shells fell in its waters.

Seoul has responded to the warnings, saying it will respond decisively in case of any such "provocations."

"I want our military to build up a perfect combat-readiness posture so they can deal with any kind of threat or provocation without hesitation,' South Korean President Park Geun-Hye said in a video message at a ceremony marking the anniversary.

Thousands of government officials and soldiers attended the anniversary ceremony at a war memorial in Seoul.

The controversial move comes amid a fresh round of talks between the two Koreas aimed at improving the highly-strained relations. The two sides are expected to dispatch their delegations to the border truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday for a high-level dialogue.

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