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Military won't reprimand Marines who mistakenly fired at civilian airliner

SEOUL, June 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's military said Sunday it will not reprimand two Marines who fired rifles last week at a civilian jetliner after mistaking it for a North Korean military aircraft.

The two Marines guarding an island near the tense Yellow Sea border with the North fired their K-2 rifles at the Asiana Airlines plane flying in sea fog in a pre-dawn incident on Friday. The plane with 119 people on board was undamaged and no one was hurt, as the plane was flying out of range of the fire.

"Although the Marines wrongly identified the situation, it was clear that they acted in line with military guidelines," a military official said on the condition of anonymity.

"But the military will reinforce education for soldiers at guard posts to better distinguish civilian planes," the official said.

The incident illustrated high tensions on the Korean Peninsula, following North Korea's two deadly attacks on the South last year

-- the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island near the Yellow Sea border.

The two attacks killed a total of 50 South Koreans, including two civilians. As a result, the South's military has vowed to take a tougher response than in the past if the North attacks again.

Officials at Asiana Airlines said the company has no plans to lodge a formal complaint with the military.

"Taking a lesson from the incident, soldiers need to undergo thorough education on identifying aircraft," a company official said.

Also on Sunday, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs confirmed the Asiana airliner was flying a normal route at the time of the incident.

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