SEOUL, South Korea (HPD) — North Korea fired artillery shells near its maritime border with South Korea Tuesday night, a day after the south began its annual military exercises to deal with provocations from its neighbour.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South Korean Armed Forces said in a statement Wednesday morning that North Korea fired about 100 artillery rounds from its west coast and 150 from its east coast. He added that the South Korean military broadcast messages several times asking North Korea to stop firing, but there were no reports of violence between the two sides.
The South Korean military said the projectiles did not land in the country’s territorial waters, but in the North Korean part of the maritime security zones established by the two Koreas under a mutual agreement reached in 2018 to defuse animosities on the front lines.
It is the second time North Korea has fired artillery into the security zones since Friday, when it fired hundreds of rounds in its biggest direct violation of the deal.
South Korean military forces said the North must stop its provocations, which undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. He added that it is bolstering its military readiness and closely monitoring North Korea’s actions, in coordination with the United States.
Hours later, an unnamed spokesman for the General Staff of the North Korean People’s Army described the latest artillery fire in a statement as a response to South Korean artillery drills that he said took place hours earlier in the border area on Tuesday. Seoul did not immediately confirm whether it had carried out artillery exercises on Tuesday.
“The enemies must immediately stop the irresponsible provocations that aggravate military tensions in the front area,” said the spokesman for the North Korean military forces.
The North Korean spokesman also lambasted the South Korean military for starting its 12-day field military exercises on Monday, describing them as an invasion rehearsal.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said its exercises are aimed at improving operational capacity to counter various types of North Korean provocations and that an unspecified number of US troops will participate in this year’s exercises.
North Korea’s artillery tests draw less foreign attention than missile launches.
However, the long-range artillery guns that Pyongyang has deployed at its forefront pose a serious security threat to South Korea’s populous metropolitan region, which is located some 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles) from the city. the border with North Korea.
In recent weeks, Pyongyang has carried out a series of missile launches and artillery fire in what some experts say is a bid to expand its arsenal and strengthen its position in future negotiations with its rival.
On Friday, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile from its east coast, accompanied by artillery fire. The missile launch was North Korea’s 15th since it resumed testing on September 25.
Last week, North Korea said its recent missile tests were simulations of nuclear attacks on targets in South Korea and the United States in response to its “dangerous” military exercises that included a US aircraft carrier.
North Korea has fired 15 test firings of missiles since it resumed testing on September 25. One of them was an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan and showed its ability to reach the US Pacific territory of Guam and beyond.
Kim Tong-hyung, a journalist for The Associated Press, contributed to this report.