North Korea threatens South with deadlier attacks over live fire drills
A North Korean soldier looks south through a pair of binoculars on the north side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

North Korea on Friday warned of 'deadlier attacks' if the South decides to go ahead with live-fire drills on Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. Officials of the communist state maintained that the attacks this time would be more lethal than that of last month's artillery shelling that killed two South Korean soldiers and two civilians. In an official statement by the North's military South Korea was threatened with 'second and third unpredictable self-defensive blows' if the drills are carried out.

It will be deadlier than what was made on November 23 in terms of the powerfulness and sphere of the strike, the North Korean People′s Army stated in KCNA, the state's official news agency.

South Korea announced on Thursday that its armed forces will hold live-fire exercises on Yeonpyeong Island. At least 20 US military personnel would assist South Korean forces and officials in Seoul maintained that the artillery guns to be used in the drill will not be aimed at the North. South Korea also claimed that the exercises, scheduled for the upcoming week, are part of their general routine.

Observers however, warned that the military drill, which will be the first such maneuver on Yeonpyeong Island since last month's North Korea attack, will revive tensions in the region. Pyongyang had already warned nuclear assault in retaliation to any provocations by Seoul. Both Koreas have continued blaming each other for setting off the earlier artillery attacks. Authorities in the North maintained that the bombardment of the island came in response to South's live-fire exercises.

The threat from North Korea comes despite senior politician touring the country. Tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul seem to have soared to the highest level in years as South Korea and the US have launched large-scale naval exercises in the Yellow sea over the past few weeks. China had expressed severe discontent over the drills and urged the countries to return to the six-party talks with North Korea, in an attempt to calm down the escalating tension. Seoul, Washington and Tokyo were quick to decline the proposal.