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February 26, 2021
WORLD

Amid tension, U.S. and South Korea begin military drills

China calls for emergency talks. Civilians were ordered to take cover in shelters on the border island of Yeonpyeong.

South Korea and the United States started joint military exercises on Sunday, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman David Oten told CNN. The drills are taking place amid heightened tensions between the Koreas after North Korea warned of unpredictable “consequences” if the United States fulfilled its vow of deploying an aircraft carrier to the Yellow Sea for the military maneuvers. Four South Koreans died after North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island during a South Korean military drill Tuesday. North Korea said the South provoked the attack because shells from the South Korean drill landed in the North’s waters.


Earlier Sunday, the United States and South Korea began assembling ships for exercises off the west coast of the Korean peninsula in the Yellow Sea, a source at the South Korean Joint Chiefs told CNN.
Also on Sunday, South Korean defense officials said the country had issued and lifted an order for civilians to take cover in shelters on the border island of Yeonpyeong after hearing loud noises inside North Korea that sounded like rounds of artillery firing, though no shells landed on the island. North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency warned Sunday what could happen if the country perceives its waters are infringed upon.


“The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will deal a merciless military counter-attack at any provocative act of intruding into its territorial waters in the future,” the state news agency said. The KCNA has slammed South Korea and the United States for provoking the crisis.


It called reports of civilian casualties part of South Korea’s “propaganda campaign” and accused the “enemy” of creating “a human shield by deploying civilians around artillery positions and inside military facilities before the launch of the provocation.”


China has called for an emergency meeting of key nations amid tension in Korea over the North’s deadly shelling of a Southern island. It proposed that members of the six nations that have been taking part in talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament should meet in December. The two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia are involved in the talks. Correspondents say South Korea’s response has been non-committal and that it will consult other countries.

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