The coast along Ongjin, South Hwanghae Province, North Korea, seen from Yeonpyeong Island in the South. The dark patches show damages the North suffered when the South fired K9 howitzers in response to the North’s deadly attack on Tuesday. Korea Times photo by Bae Wu-han
By Lee Tae-hoon
The military announced Friday that its counterattack in response to North Korean shelling Tuesday damaged barracks in the North, but failed to confirm the extent of it.
“Despite our ongoing efforts, we have only identified the degree of damage in a limited area,” an official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The official, however, confirmed that the military had made “multiple hits” on coastal bases in the towns of Gaemeori and Mudo in North Korea.
“Fire broke out in Mudo and Gaemeori,” he said. “We have also identified a depressed area in a trench, which is assumed to be caused by shelling.”
The official also noted that the military has yet to confirm whether the North fired fuel-air shells, similar to thermobaric weapons, on Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea.
The North fired some 170 artillery and rocket rounds from the two military bases at Yeonpyeong, located roughly 12 to 13 kilometers away.
The South Korean military fired back with K9 self-propelled howitzers.
However, of the six K9 guns, only three were used as two were damaged by the North’s artillery fire, and one could not immediate respond because a dud shell blocked it, the official said.
Though only 80 rounds were fired from the South, less than half of what the North used, the impact would have been far greater than the North’s as each shell has a killing range of 50 square meters.
Shells from the North have a killing range of 15 to 30 square meters, according to the official.
Some experts argue that the South would have done far greater damage to the North, but satellite pictures or other images of the North’s coastal military bases show hardly any sign of damage to confirm their claims.
They estimate that dozens of North Korean soldiers would have been killed by the South’s counter strike.
Critics of this say that hardly any damage would have been caused in the two military bases in the North as most of their artillery units are located deep inside caves, and many of the 80 shells by the South may have missed their targets.
The North has remained silent over the extent of damage on their territory.