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N. Korean jet move 'provocative'

Yongpyong Island sits just south of the Northern Limit Line
Yongpyong Island sits just south of the Northern Limit Line

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SPECIAL REPORT
• Analysis: What are the options?
• Six-nation talks: Where they stand
• Interactive: N. Korea military might
• Timeline: Nuclear development
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• Satellite image: Nuclear facility
• Special report: Nuclear crisis

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korea is describing its northern neighbor as 'provocative' after a North Korean fighter jet apparently crossed into its air space.

The South's defense ministry says the North Korean MiG-19 flew past the northern limit line over the Yellow Sea near Yongpyong Island for on Thursday.

The incursion lasted about two minutes and ended shortly after two South Korean F-5E fighters were dispatched to the area. Anti-aircraft missile units in the area near the city of Incheon were also readied to attack the MiG.

Four other South Korean fighter jets were deployed, officials say, but the incident was over before they could respond.

The incident, which took place at around 1003 local time Thursday (0103 GMT), comes at a time of increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula and sent the South's armed forced into high alert.

Officials in Seoul say they do not yet know what sparked the incursion -- whether it was a deliberate incursion or a simple navigational error.

The last such incident took place in 1983.

South Korea's defense department has already said it plans to protest vigorously to the North and demand a full explanation for the incident.

Nuclear tensions

The incursion comes after months of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the North's alleged nuclear weapons program.

Next week U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to visit South Korea to attend the inauguration of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun. (Powell visit)

A North Korean MiG-19 was captured by the South in 1996 after the pilot defected
A North Korean MiG-19 was captured by the South in 1996 after the pilot defected

During his visit to the region, which also includes stops in China and Japan, Powell is expected to try and up the diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

North and South Korea remain officially at war, never having signed a formal peace treaty ending the 1950-53 Korean War.

As a result the border between North and South is one of the most heavily fortified frontiers in the world.

North Korea has an army of more than a million, most of them positioned along the so-called Demilitarized Zone within easy striking distance of the South Korean capital.

Amid a growing war of words over the nuclear issue, Pyongyang has threatened to turn South Korea into "a sea of fire" if the dispute escalates into a military confrontation.


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