North Korea fires more artillery rounds in response to Seoul

North Korea said on Tuesday it had ordered military units to fire more artillery shells into the sea, North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported, in response to South Korea’s continued military exercises at the border.

North Korea fired 82 artillery shells over eight and a half hours on Tuesday in response and warning of “insidious provocation by the enemy”, KCNA said, citing the country’s military spokesman.

The South Korean military said North Korea fired about 100 artillery shells.

On Monday, North Korea said it had fired more than 130 projectiles into the sea off its east and west coasts, some of which hit a safe zone near the maritime border between the two Koreas. Seoul said the move was in violation of a 2018 agreement between the countries to reduce tensions.

South Korean and US troops have been conducting live ammunition exercises near the border since Monday. Allies say the drills are needed to deter North Korea, which has tested a record number of missiles this year and made preparations to resume nuclear tests for the first time since 2017.

Pyongyang sharply criticized the joint exercises as evidence of hostile policies by Seoul and Washington.

“The enemy must immediately cease provocative military actions in the zone close to the front lines,” a North Korean army spokesman told KCNA.

In addition to artillery fire, the North Korean military issued an emergency combat alert to units at all levels and troops were ordered to step up vigilance, the spokesman said.

South Korea’s Ministry of Defense rejected Pyongyang’s comments.

“It is never acceptable for North Korea to unfairly criticize the normal training between South Korea and the United States,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

*Reporting by Josh Smith, Soo-hyang Choi and Joyce Lee

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