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(LEAD) N. Korea threatens more attacks, blames U.S. for clash

All Headlines 12:48 November 25, 2010

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout; RECASTS lead, headline; RESTRUCTURES; ADDS English text of statement)
By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military threatened new waves of attacks on South Korea on Thursday, blaming the United States as well as South Korea for an artillery clash that killed four South Koreans earlier this week.

"The (North) Korean People's Army will deal without hesitation the second and third strong physical retaliatory blow" if provoked by South Korean forces, a North Korean military delegation said in a statement carried by official media.

North Korea claims South Korea initiated the artillery clash on Tuesday by first firing toward its side during an exercise. Two marines and two civilians were killed when dozens of shells fired by the North landed on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

The communist North does not uphold the inter-Korean Yellow Sea border that was drawn by the U.S. at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The war technically continues to this day as it ended in a truce rather than a peace pact, which Pyongyang has long demanded.

"The U.S., therefore, cannot evade the blame for the recent shelling," the delegation said in the statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency. "It was none other than the U.S. which sparked off the conflict in the above-said waters."

The latest threat came after South Korea and the United States agreed earlier this week to mobilize an aircraft carrier for a joint naval drill that starts Sunday in the Yellow Sea.

Three deadly clashes between the gunboats of the divided countries have erupted since 1999 near the Yellow Sea border also known as the Northern Limit Line. Seoul also blames Pyongyang for the March sinking of its warship that killed 46 sailors.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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