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North Korea turning island into military bunker, says SKorea

The South Korean military source said North Korea has been building up its military manpower and equipment on the island of Gal since March.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea turning island into military bunker, says SKorea
North Korea test fires missiles into the Yellow Sea. North Koreans have been spotted digging ditches and engaging in construction at a new site, said South Korean military authorities. File photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, May 26 (UPI) -- North Korea has turned a secluded border island into a site where multiple rocket launchers could be deployed, the South Korean military said Tuesday.

The North Korean island of Gal is just 2.8 miles north of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, reported Yonhap. Pyongyang bombarded the island in November 2010, leaving four South Korean civilians dead.

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An unidentified South Korean military officer told the Korea Times North Korea is "expected to either deploy 122-millimeter multiple rocket launchers there, or to use [the military encampment] as guard posts."

The South Korean military source said North Korea has been building up its military manpower and equipment on the island of Gal since March. North Koreans have been spotted digging ditches, engaging in construction until five-roofed trucks arranged like bunkers appeared on the site.

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South Korea said the facility could be used to monitor the comings and goings of South Korean military vessels – and that 122-millimeter multiple rockets launchers could be deployed against naval fleets.

The launchers can send rockets flying up to a distance of 12.4 miles in all four directions. They are the same weapons deployed to destroy parts of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island.

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The officer said the deployment of rocket launchers so close to South Korean territory means the military must recalculate risks to patrolling South Korean fleets in the Yellow Sea.

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North Korea disputes the NLL that sets water boundaries for North and South Korea. The reclusive country has stated in the past the NLL violates the Korean armistice agreement and U.S., South Korean insistence on the line is justification for potential provocation.

In 2009, North Korea extended a "peacetime firing zone" to waters south of the boundary.

South Korea said the military remained confident on Tuesday a North Korean attack from a 122-millimeter multiple rocket launcher could be deterred with the deployment of Spike, guided missiles currently stationed on Yeonpyeong and Baekryeong Islands.

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