Two Koreas warn of exchange of fire near maritime border amid tensions

SEOUL, Oct 24 (Reuters) – North and South Korea exchanged warning shots on the west coast on Monday, accusing each other of violating their maritime border amid heightened military tensions.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it broadcast warnings and fired warning shots at around 3:40 a.m. (1840 GMT) to send off a ship that had crossed the de facto maritime border’s Northern Limit Line (NLL). ) of the North Korean merchant ship Sunday).

The North’s military said it fired 10 rockets after a South Korean naval vessel violated the NLL and fired a warning shot “on the grounds of tracking an unidentified vessel,” according to state media.

Sign up now for free unlimited access to

“We have ordered preliminary countermeasures to vigorously destroy enemy ships,” a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said, according to KCNA’s official news agency.

The JCS said it had conducted “normal operations” over the border incursion, and said North Korea’s move violated a 2018 bilateral military agreement that banned “hostile acts” in the border area.

“We once again urge North Korea to immediately stop its consistent provocations and accusations that have damaged peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and the international community,” the JCS said in a statement.

The latest exchange of fire comes amid rising tensions as North Korea has conducted weapons tests at an unprecedented rate this year.

In recent weeks, North Korea has repeatedly fired short-range ballistic missiles and hundreds of artillery shells off its east and west coasts in protest against South Korea’s military activities.

The South Korean military last week began its annual Hoguk defense exercise, which is designed to last until Oct. 10. 28 and improve their own and joint U.S. capabilities to address North Korean nuclear and missile threats.

As part of the plan, South Korea’s navy said Monday it will conduct a four-day exercise off the west coast that will call in about 20 warships, including Aegis-equipped destroyers and U.S. assets such as Apache attack helicopters and A-10 strikes airplane.

Pyongyang reacted angrily to the exercise, calling it a provocation and threatening countermeasures. Seoul and Washington said their exercises were defensive and aimed at deterring North Korea.

Sign up now for free unlimited access to

Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Diane Craft, Stephen Coates and Gerry Doyle

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source link