North Korea fired more than 200 artillery shells near its disputed Northern Limit Line border with South Korea on Friday, the 5th of January, further escalating tensions between the two countries and prompting South Korea to take “appropriate” measures through a live-fire exercise, reports Reuters.
Residents of two remote South Korean islands evacuated to bomb shelters before the South’s military fired live rounds at the disputed northern border, the South’s military said.
The South Korean armed forces reported no civilian or military casualties from the shelling of the North.
South Korean Defence Minister Shin Won-sik described the shelling
as a provocation that increases tensions and threatens peace on the peninsula.
North Korean artillery shells hit the northern side of the sea border, a South Korean military spokesman said, adding that the South Korean armed forces are monitoring North Korea’s movements along its coast in cooperation with the US armed forces.
South Korea’s defence ministry said navy brigades carried out drills in response to North Korean provocations, demonstrating a “confident operational response” involving mechanised artillery and tanks.
China, North Korea’s main political ally, has urged restraint on both sides and called on to resume dialogue.
According to Leif-Eric Easley, Professor of International Studies at Seoul University, Reuters writes that North Korean artillery shelling during winter exercises at the disputed sea border area is not uncommon. However, this year is notable for the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un publicly refused reconciliation and reunification with South Korea, which North Korea now regards as an enemy.
There have been deadly clashes between North and South Korea in waters near the disputed Northern Limit Line, including fighting with warships and the sinking of a South Korean corvette in 2010, believed to have been sunk by a North Korean torpedo, resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors, writes Reuters.
North Korea has recently warned that the situation on the peninsula is fast approaching war, with the US and South Korean militaries taking dangerous measures. Both Koreas have promised a military response in the event of an attack.
In November, the North announced that an agreement signed in 2018 aimed at easing tensions and preventing an accidental outbreak of hostilities was no longer valid after the South said it would resume drills along the border, according to Reuters.
Also read: North Korean leader orders military to speed up war preparations
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