North Korea warns of 'brink of war'

YEONPYEONG ISLAND: North Korea warned Friday that planned U.S.-South Korean military drills are pushing the peninsula to the brink of war as a senior U.S. military commander toured an island devastated this week by a North Korean artillery barrage.

North Korea's state news agency said drills this weekend involving South Korean forces and a U.S. nuclear powered supercarrier in waters south of Tuesday's skirmish between the rival Koreas are a reckless plan by ``trigger-happy elements'' and that the maneuvers target the North.

``The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war,'' the dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency said. ``Gone are the days when verbal warnings are served only.''

North Korea's army and people are ``now greatly enraged'' and ``getting fully ready to give a shower of dreadful fire,'' the agency said. ``Escalated confrontation would lead to a war, and he who is fond of playing with fire is bound to perish.''

The comments came as Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. military commander in South Korea, paid a visit to the island targeted by the North Korean attack to show solidarity with ally Seoul.

Sharp, dressed in a heavy camouflage jacket and army fatigues and wearing a black beret, walked down a heavily damaged street strewn with debris from buildings. Around him were charred bicycles and shattered bottles of soju, a kind of Korean alcoholic drink.
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