North Korea’s artillery attack on a South Korean island earlier on Tuesday may have been triggered by military exercises being held in the area, a spokesman for the South Korean presidential administration said.
“Our army was carrying out military training, and there was a telegram from North Korea with a protest and questioning whether this was an attack,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
He did not rule out that subsequent artillery fire from the North was a response to the drills.
The training took place on an island not far from Yeonpyeong Island, which was hit by scores of North Korean artillery rounds. The island is home to some 1,200 people.
One South Korean serviceman is reported to have died during the attack, with three seriously injured.
A spokesman for South Korea's joint chief of staff, Lee Bung-woo, told the Xinhua news agency that "South Korea fired some 30 artillery shells back in response."
The attack is the second by North Korea this year against its neighbor in the tense Yellow Sea border area. In March, a North Korean submarine was alleged to have torpedoed a South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan.
The warship sunk near the disputed Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea, causing the loss of 46 lives. An international investigation said the North was to blame, but the reclusive regime denied involvement.
North and South Korea remain technically at war, since no peace treaty was signed following the Korean War in 1953. The Demilitarized Zone between the countries is the most heavily armed border in the world.
The latest attack comes after the revelation that the North has created a new uranium enrichment facility.
MOSCOW, November 23 (RIA Novosti)