Two Koreas exchange warning shots near maritime border amid tensions | Military news

The moves come amid heightened friction over a barrage of weapons tests by North Korea.

North and South Korea exchanged warning shots off their west coast, accusing each other of violating their maritime border amid heightened tensions about the Pyongyang weapons tests.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it issued warnings and fired warning shots to repel a North Korean merchant vessel that crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the maritime boundary de facto, around 3:40 a.m. local time, Monday (6:40 p.m. GMT Sunday).

The North Korean military said it fired 10 artillery warning shots towards its territorial waters, where “enemy naval movement was detected”. He accused a South Korean navy vessel of entering North Korean waters under the guise of cracking down on an unidentified vessel.

“We ordered initial countermeasures to strongly expel the enemy warship by firing 10 shells from multiple rocket launchers near the waters where the enemy movement occurred,” the North Korean People’s Army said in a statement. statement issued by the official KCNA news agency.

The JCS said the North Korean artillery fire violated a 2018 inter-Korean agreement on reducing military animosities and undermined stability on the Korean peninsula. He said North Korean shells did not land in South Korean waters, but he was stepping up his military preparedness.

No clashes have been reported, but the poorly marked maritime border off the west coast of the Korean peninsula is a source of long-standing animosities between the two countries. It is the scene of several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes and violence in recent years, including North Korea’s bombardment of a South Korean island and the alleged torpedoing of a South Korean navy ship that killed 50 people in 2010.

The latest exchange of fire came amid simmering tension, with North Korea carry out weapon tests at an unprecedented rate this year.

In recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly launched short-range ballistic missiles and hundreds of artillery rounds off its east and west coasts in protest against military activities by its southern neighbor.

South Korean troops launched their annual Hoguk defense drills last week, designed to run until October 28, and build their own and combined capacity with the United States to counter nuclear and missile threats from the North Korea. The two allies are also due to hold joint air force exercises next week involving some 240 fighter jets, including F-35 fighters operated by the two nations. The drills aim to inspect the two countries’ joint operations capabilities and improve combat readiness, the South Korean military said on Tuesday.

Pyongyang reacted angrily to the drills, calling them provocations and threatening countermeasures. Seoul and Washington say their drills are defensive and aimed at deterring North Korea.

“Pyongyang’s policy of blaming external threats and projecting confidence in military capabilities may motivate greater risk-taking,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “North Korea’s investigation of South Korea’s perimeter defenses could lead to a serious firefight and unintended escalation.”

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