North Korea exchanges fire with South Korean ships at maritime border

SEOUL – The Armed Forces of South Korea fired warning shots at a ship of the North Korea this Monday, 24, after considering that the vessel had crossed the disputed maritime border between the countries, which led the North to return the warning shots.

A North Korean commercial ship reportedly crossed the so-called Northern Boundary Line near Baengnyeong Island at 3:42 am (5:42 pm GMT on Sunday), but retreated north after firing from the Seoul Navy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. South Korea in a statement.

“The North’s continued provocations and reckless statements undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community.”

Newscast at a Seoul station;  South Korea's military fired warning shots at a North Korean ship after saying the ship had crossed the maritime border between the two Koreas.
Newscast at a Seoul station; South Korea’s military fired warning shots at a North Korean ship after saying the ship had crossed the maritime border between the two Koreas. Photograph: Jeon Heon-Kyun/EFE

The North Korean Army accused a South Korean military ship of “invading” the de facto border for between 2.5 and 5 kilometers a few minutes later, prompting 10 warning shots in response.

“Coastal Defense Units on the Western Front (…) adopted an initial countermeasure to forcibly eject the enemy’s warship by firing 10 multiple rocket launcher projectiles towards territorial waters where enemy naval movement was detected” , a spokesman for the North Korean General Staff said in a statement.

“Once again, we strongly warn the enemies who carried out maritime provocations, in addition to the artillery fire and cross-border loudspeaker transmissions,” added the North Korean source.

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The maritime boundary between the two Koreas was never established by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. The area is considered a point of conflict and has been the scene of several clashes over the years.

Tensions have increased in recent weeks with several missile launches and artillery fire by North Korea, considered a provocation by South Korea and Japan.

Pyongyang has dramatically increased military exercises in recent months, while Seoul and Washington say the North Korean leader’s regime Kim Jong-un is close to executing the country’s seventh nuclear test.

Monday’s exchange of warnings came on the day that US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman visits the Japan and participates in a trilateral meeting with Tokyo and Seoul, in a demonstration of unity before Pyongyang.

A few weeks ago, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile, several artillery rounds and sent fighter jets across the border with the South in a show of force. Pyongyang called the exercises “nuclear tactical” maneuvers.

With negotiations stalled, relations between the two Koreas are at one of the most complex points in many years. Kim declared in September that his country is an “irreversible” nuclear power, which jeopardizes any negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program./AFP

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