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Suspicion about N. Korean role grows

SEOUL, April 23 (UPI) -- There's growing South Korean suspicion about North Korean involvement in last month's sinking of a South Korean warship, Yonhap news agency reports.

After the stern of the ship was pulled from the seabed last week, South Korean military and other investigators had said an initial probe showed an "external explosion" likely caused the 1,200-ton Cheonan to go down in the Yellow Sea on March 26.

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The report said that has led to further suspicion of a North Korean torpedo or sea mine attack. North Korea, however, has strongly denied any such allegation.

Preparations were completed Friday to lift the rest of the sunken ship this weekend. Yonhap said that might provide investigators more clues about the sinking and also about the bodies of the remaining missing sailors. Of the total 104 sailors, 58 were rescued after the Cheonan broke in two and sank in the waters near marine border with North Korea. Of the remaining 46, investigators said 39 have been confirmed dead.

Yonhap reported the region where the ship went down is near where the two countries fought bloody skirmishes in 1999, 2002 and last November.

The Cheonan incident comes at a time when relations between the two Koreas remain strained. North Korea also is yet to return to the six-nation talks on its denuclearization.

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