North Korean, South Korean navies trade fire on disputed border

A South Korean ship fired on a North Korean vessel after it says the North's ship crossed into the South's waters. The exchange ratchets up tensions before US President Obama's Asia visit, scheduled for mid-November.

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    This undated photo released by the South Korea Navy on Tuesday, shows the same type of South Korean Navy patrol boats that were involved in a naval clash with a North Korean ship Tuesday.
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A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

North and South Korean naval forces exchanged fire in disputed waters off their west coast Tuesday, the first such incident in seven years. No South Korean casualties were reported, but the North Korean ship was badly damaged during the skirmish. Each navy is blaming the other for the incident, which analysts believe will heighten tensions between the two Koreas in the runup to US President Barack Obama's visit to the region, scheduled for mid-November.

According to South Korean officials, their ship issued warnings before opening fire on a vessel from the North, reports CNN.

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North Korea, in turn, contends that its ship did not cross the border, reports the BBC.

The BBC adds that both Seoul and Pyongyang have demanded an apology for the incident. The Koreas' standoff on the issue comes weeks after North Korea's navy accused the South of sending warships across their maritime border and threatened retaliation.

According to The Korea Times, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak asked the military to exercise restraint and prevent the incident from escalating. Lee also convened an emergency meeting of security-related ministers to further discuss the matter.

The London-based Telegraph says the clash will heighten tensions between the two Koreas ahead of President Obama's trip to Seoul, scheduled for Nov. 18.

The incident also comes a day after the Obama administration agreed to send Stephen Bosworth, a special envoy, to Pyongyang for direct talks on nuclear issues, reports the Associated Press.

The clash is the latest in a series of armed conflicts between the navies of North and South Korea along the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed maritime border, reports United Press International. (See a map of the border here.)

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