South Korea conducts live fire drills after North’s shelling in Yellow Sea

Seoul, Jan 5 (EFE).- The South Korean military on Friday responded with live fire drills after North Korea fired artillery shells near the disputed maritime zone in the Yellow Sea.

The maneuver came hours after the North Korean military launched over 200 artillery shells into waters north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two countries, South Korean Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

Defense minister Shin Won-sik supervised and inspected the maritime training from a military combat control room, it added.

“Our military upgraded its military readiness and maintained an overwhelming operational response posture using joint firepower, while conducting shooting training by setting a virtual target in the maritime area south of the NLL after North Korea’s provocation,” the military added.

The military drills that were held near the northwestern islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong, involved self-propelled K9 howitzers and K1E1 tanks, according to the statement.

“After North Korea unilaterally declared the complete withdrawal of the September 19 Military Agreement, it resumed artillery fire within the no-hostilities zone this morning, a provocative act that threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula and heightens tensions,” the defense minister said in the statement.

Shin referred to the military agreement signed by the two Koreas on Sep. 19, 2018, aimed at reducing tensions in border areas, including the prohibition of live-fire exercises near the demarcation line.

“The maritime firing exercise is to respond to North Korea’s provocations, where the North Korean military fired artillery shells in a no-hostilities zone,” the statement said, noting that no further “unusual movements” were observed in the area.

The Northern Limit Line, drawn by the United Nations to prevent clashes after the Korean War armistice in 1953, serves as a disputed maritime border between the two Koreas in the Yellow Sea, even though North Korea rejects its legitimacy.

The disputed maritime zone has witnessed numerous clashes between the two Koreas, including the North Korean shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 that killed four South Koreans. EFE


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