S Korea stages night drills to detect N Korean submarines

South Korea`s navy has staged intensive night-time exercises aimed at detecting North Korean submarines as a key part of its five-day drill scheduled to end tomorrow, military officials said.

Seoul: South Korea`s navy has staged
intensive night-time exercises aimed at detecting North Korean
submarines as a key part of its five-day drill scheduled to
end tomorrow, military officials said.

The country`s largest-ever anti-submarine exercise is
going ahead in the Yellow Sea in response to an alleged North
Korean attack on a South Korean warship which killed 46
sailors.

The North vehemently denies carrying out the attack in
March and has threatened retaliation for the naval drill,
which involves 4,500 troops, 29 ships and 50 fighter jets.

The exercise is one of a series planned in coming months,
some of them with South Korea`s ally the United States in a
show of force against the North.

The current drill is focused on improving military
capabilities to detect North Korean submarines and torpedoes,
after the navy came in for strong criticism for failing to
detect the alleged night attack on March 26.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the night training has
been held for six to seven hours starting around 8 pm (1200
GMT), with all ships equipped with sonar taking part.

"For now, everything is proceeding in line with our drill
plan," a JCS spokesman told a news agency on Sunday.

A team of international investigators said they found
overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine fired a
heavy torpedo to break the corvette in two near the disputed
Yellow Sea border.

The communist North says the allegations are part of a
smear campaign by the South and the United States.

"The anti-submarine exercise... is a prelude to a war of
aggression against the North," the newspaper of its ruling
communist party, Rodong Sinmun, said yesterday.

The North`s military has threatened "the most powerful"
retaliation if the South triggers a conflict during the
current exercise. "Our warning is not empty talk," the paper
said without elaborating.

PTI

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