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Koreas Exchange Fire in Naval Conflict Off Daecheong Island

In the first naval clash since 2002, North Korean and South Korean military vessels exchanged fire near the disputed western sea border at 11:27 a.m. today.

While there were no casualties and relatively little damage on the South Korean side, a North Korean naval vessel was reportedly in flames as it retreated north.

The exchange lasted roughly two minutes in which the North Korean ship fired up to 50 rounds at the South Korean vessel at a distance of about two nautical miles.

Baek Seung-joo, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said Tuesday’s clash would not have a big impact on inter-Korean relations.

Baek speculates that North Korea caused the incident, but that Pyongyang appears to want to create tensions and use them for domestic political consumption as U.S. President Obama prepares to visit Seoul next week.

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