S.Korea to hold drill on island shelled by North

South Korea will hold a military drill this week on a border island shelled by North Korea in 2010, marking the second anniversary of an attack that triggered fears of a full-scale conflict.

Friday's drill will feature field and simulated exercises by marines stationed on Yeonpyeong island as well as other naval forces, a Marine Corps spokesman told AFP.

"The exercise will be held... based on various scenarios of provocations and attacks by the enemy," he said on Monday.

The spokesman said the drill would not involve any live-fire exercises -- a possible compromise aimed at averting a military response from Pyongyang.

The November 23, 2010 shelling of the island left two South Korean marines as well as two civilians dead in one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korea's military went on top alert, its troops responded with cannon fire and the government met in an underground war room.

The North said the attack was in response to a live-fire drill by the South, which, it claimed, had resulted in shells falling on its side of the disputed Yellow Sea border.

Yeonpyeong lies just south of the border declared by UN forces after the Korean war, but north of the sea border declared by Pyongyang.

The maritime boundary was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

Since the Yeonpyeong shelling, South Korea has increased troop numbers and upgraded its defences on frontline islands in the area.

There are currently widespread concerns in Seoul that North Korea will seek to provoke a military confrontation ahead of the South's presidential election on December 19.


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