N.K. believed to have used fuel-air shells

  • Published : Nov 25, 2010 - 18:59
  • Updated : Nov 25, 2010 - 18:59
North Korea is believed to have used a type of shell that would increase casualties and structural damage when it fired on a South Korean island Tuesday, a military source said Thursday.

“After analyzing debris of artillery rounds on Yeonpyeong Island, we preliminarily concluded that some of them were a sort of special weapon similar to thermobaric bombs,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

“North Korea appeared to use such a weapon to kill a number of people and maximize confusion by causing fire,” the source said.
An official shows shrapnel from North Korean artillery shells during a supreme council meeting of the ruling Grand National Party on Thursday. At right is GNP Chairman Ahn Sang-soo.   (Yang Dong-chul/The Korea Herald)

Also known as “fuel-air bombs,” thermobaric bombs produce a blast wave for a significantly longer duration than those produced by condensed explosives, increasing casualties and damage to structures.

North Korea is presumed to have developed and deployed such weapons from 1985, according to the source.

The barrage of shots fired Tuesday at the inhabited island, just south of the tense Yellow Sea border with the North, killed two marines and two civilians. It also injured 18 people, including at least three civilians, and gutted scores of homes.

Tuesday’s attack marked the first civilian deaths in a North Korean attack since the bombing of a South Korean airliner in 1987.

North Korea on Thursday blamed the South and the U.S. for provoking its artillery bombardment and warned it was ready to strike again, as a U.S. carrier headed in for war games off the tense peninsula.

The North said in a statement that “the U.S. can never evade responsibility for the recent exchange of fire.”

“If the warmongering South Korean puppets fail to return to their senses and commit another reckless military provocation, our army will carry out second and third rounds of powerful physical retaliatory strikes without hesitation.”

The warning came as the U.S. and South Korean navies plan to hold a four-day naval exercise in the Yellow Sea from Sunday that will involve a strike group headed by aircraft carrier the USS George Washington.

Although the show of allied maritime firepower had been scheduled well before this week’s attacks, the U.S. military said, it would also demonstrate the U.S. “commitment to regional stability through deterrence.”

(From news reports)