Toy balloons spark fears of North Korean infiltration

2010-06-18 08:06

Toy balloons released by kindergarten children sparked a security

alert in South Korea amid growing military tensions with North Korea, the

defence ministry said today.

Troops and police mobilised a special task force early yesterday

after a resident of Ansan, 35km southwest of Seoul, reported that 40 to 50

flying objects resembling parachutes fell on a mountain the previous


They turned out to be balloons from a nearby kindergarten, a

ministry spokesperson said.

An explosion on June 7 on Yeonpyeong Island, near the sea border

with North Korea, along with the discovery of a diving suit on the island’s

shoreline, also sparked an alert.

A joint military and police investigation found that the diving

suit was abandoned by a fisherman and the explosion was not suspicious.

State inspectors strongly criticised military chiefs for their

inadequate response to the sinking of a warship near the disputed sea border on

March 26, with the loss of 46 lives.

The inspectors recommended that 13 generals, 10 lower-level

officers and two civilian defence ministry officials be punished.

The country’s

top military officer Lee Sang-Eui offered his resignation.

South Korea announced reprisals against North Korea after a

separate multinational investigation concluded that a submarine from the North

had torpedoed the warship.

The North, which denies involvement, has threatened military action

if the United Nations Security Council accepts Seoul’s request to censure



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