N.Korea warns of 'counter-attack' to S.Korea exercise

SEOUL, Aug 3, 2010 (AFP) - North Korea's military Tuesday threatened a "physical counter-attack" to a South Korean naval exercise set to start this week in the Yellow Sea, North Korea's official media reported.

The military's western command, in a notice to the South, said it was determined to suppress any live-fire exercise with a "strong physical counter-attack", the Korean Central News Agency said.

The South has announced an anti-submarine exercise from August 5-9, involving the army, navy, air force and marines, in response to what it says was a deadly North Korean torpedo attack on a warship.

It is not clear exactly where the exercise will be held. The area around the disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea has been the scene of several naval clashes.

In March, a South Korean corvette sank near the border with the loss of 46 lives in an incident Seoul and its allies blamed on an attack by a North Korean torpedo.

"As we already declared at home and abroad, there is only a maritime demarcation line set by our side in the West Sea (Yellow Sea)," the news agency quoted the message as saying.

The North's military warned South Korean fishing boats and other civilian ships to stay clear. It denounced the exercise as an "act of military aggression" and a "reckless political provocation".

South Korea and the United States last week staged a major naval and air exercise in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) designed to deter aggression from the North.

The North denies involvement in the corvette's sinking. It threatened nuclear retaliation for last week's drill, which passed without incident.

The North routinely denounces joint military exercises south of the border as a rehearsal for war, while the US and South Korea describe them as purely defensive.

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