US aircraft carrier heads to Korean peninsula

ByJPOST.COM STAFF
November 24, 2010 09:22

2 more bodies found on island, raising death toll to 4; US exercises were planned before exchange of artillery fire between North, South Korea.




Smoke billows from Yeonpyeong island

North Korea attacks South. (photo credit:ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The USS George Washington, an aircraft carrier carrying 75 warplanes and a crew of over 6,000, shipped out towards Korean waters on Wednesday. According to US officials in Seoul, the carrier left Japan and was expected to join naval exercises with South Korea next week.

US Forces Korea pointed out in a statement that while the exercises were "planned well before yesterday's unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the ROK (South Korea)-US alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence," emphasizing that the exercise was defensive in nature, according to Reuters.

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Also on Wednesday, South Korea said it found the burnt bodies of two male civilians on the island attacked by North Korea one day before.


The South Korean Coast Guard said the two construction workers were found Wednesday. They were believed to be in their sixties. The discovery came day after a frightening military skirmish between the Koreas ratcheted tensions on the peninsula to new extremes.

On Tuesday, North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire after the North shelled an island near their disputed sea border, killing at least two South Korean marines, setting dozens of buildings ablaze and sending civilians fleeing for shelter.

The clash, which sent South Korea’s military on high alert, was one of the rivals’ most dramatic confrontations since the end of the Korean War, and one of the few to put civilians at risk, though no non-military deaths were immediately reported.

Sixteen South Korean soldiers and three civilians were injured; the extent of casualties on the northern side was unknown.

The skirmish began when Pyongyang warned the South to halt military drills in the area, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters, albeit away from the North Korean shore, the North retaliated by bombarding the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population.

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