South, North Korean ships exchange fire
June 14, 1999
SEOUL (CNN) -- North and South Korea warships exchanged gunfire for about 10 minutes in contested waters in the Yellow Sea early Tuesday, prompting Seoul to issue a heightened state of alert.
The officials with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said that three North Korean ships, including torpedo vessels, crossed into the disputed waters and that high-speed South Korean patrol boats approached the ships.
South Korean Defense Ministry officials said the North Korean ships fired first around 9:25 a.m. and South Korean ships returned fire.
The Defense Ministry said one of the North Korean ships was badly damaged and was staying in the area while the others went back toward North Korea.
All South Korean ships in the Yellow Sea, including fishing vessels, have been told to come back into port.
The shooting erupted only 40 minutes before generals of the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea sat down in the border village of Panmunjom to discuss the tense military standoff, now in its eighth day.
North Korea agreed to the meeting after four of its patrol boats were rammed and briefly repelled by South Korean naval vessels in the first violent confrontation last Friday.
Two North Korean patrol boats moved back into the disputed waters shortly after daybreak Tuesday, escorting about 20 fishing boats, the Defense Ministry said.
They were later joined by three torpedo boats, which the ministry said began the shooting. It said the exchange of gunfire continued for about 10 minutes.
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