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S. Korea marks first anniversary of deadly naval ship sinking

SEOUL, March 26 — South Koreans marked the first anniversary of the deadly sinking of a navy ship on Saturday with a memorial ceremony in Daejeon, south of Seoul, attended by thousands of government and military leaders and citizens.

Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in the sinking of the Cheonan near the tense Yellow Sea border with North Korea on March 26 of last year. A team of multinational investigators concluded last May that a North Korean torpedo was responsible for the sinking. Pyongyang still denies involvement.

Tensions between the two Koreans rose further last November when the North shelled the South Korean border island of Yeonpyeong, killing two marines and two civilians.

The ceremony at the National Cemetery in Daejeon, where the 46 sailors were laid to rest, was attended by about 4,500 people, including President Lee Myung-bak and other government and military leaders.

Those taking part in the anniversary event also included relatives of victims who were killed in the incident and dozens of surviving sailors.

"The soldiers who defended the sea of their fatherland until the last moment are true heroes of the Republic of Korea," Park Sung-choon, minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, said in his speech at the ceremony.

"Our people will remember the soldiers and make a bigger country upholding their will," he said.

Before the ceremony, President Lee visited the tombs of the killed sailors together with three representatives of the bereaved families to pay respects. (PNA/Yonhap)

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