Guwahati, Thursday, November 25, 2010
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South Korea to boost forces as North threatens attacks

 SEOUL, Nov 25 (DPA) - North Korea Thursday threatened new attacks against the South, which decided to boost its forces in the Yellow Sea, media reports said.

North Korea's threats followed its artillery bombardment Tuesday of a South Korean island near the two countries' maritime border that left two South Korean soldiers and two civilians dead and injured 18 people.

"The (North) Korean People's Army will deal without hesitation the second and third strong, physical, retaliatory blow," the North Korean military said in a statement carried by state media.

North Koreans blamed the South and its ally the US for the clash that set Yeonpyeong island on fire and forced residents to flee.

South Korea said it is to increase its armed forces in the seas west of their coasts to deter any further attacks from the North, an official from the Presidential Office said Thursday.

President Lee Myung Bak ordered that troops on five islands in the Yellow Sea receive better weapons, said Hong Sang Pyo, senior presidential secretary for public affairs. More of the budget is to be devoted to the forces there.

"We should not ease our sense of crisis in preparation for the possibility of another provocation by North Korea," Lee reportedly told a meeting of security and economy ministers. "A provocation like this can recur any time."

Seoul also said it was planning to overhaul its rules of engagement regarding the North after criticism that they are weak in the face of Pyongyang's aggression.

Lee said his country would make "across-the-board" changes to the rules.

The Stalinist state Thursday dismissed a proposal from the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) to hold talks between generals on the artillery clash.

"North Korea rejected the proposal by the UNC because it appeared to see no practical benefit in the talks," a South Korean defence ministry official said.

The UN Command is tasked with monitoring the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. No peace treaty was ever signed, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war.

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