Conflicts & War

South Korea says multiple shots fired from North toward border post

(Update 1: adds details)

Seoul, May 3 (efe-epa).- A military post in South Korea was hit on Sunday by multiple gunshots fired from the North Korean side of the border between the two countries, the South Korean military said.

Nobody was injured and no damage reported in the firing at the South guard post, located within the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a release.

The firing prompted the South to retaliate with two warning shots first along with ceasefire messages broadcast over the public address system.

“We are taking actions via inter-Korean communication lines to grasp the detailed situation and to prevent any further incidents. And we also maintain a necessary readiness posture,” the JCS said.

The incident took place in the central border town of Cheorwon around 7.40 am.

According to the JCS, South Korean sentries first head the gunshots and then found bullet marks on the post.

The JCS told local news agency Yonhap that the North had so far not provided any explanation for the incident, although adding that they did not consider the firing an intentional hostile action by Pyongyang and had not detected any unusual movement of troops across the border.

The incident took place amid dense fog and at the time when the North Korean border guards change their shifts, although the JCS has deemed the shots a violation of the bilateral agreement signed between the two sides in 2018 to reduce military tension in the peninsula.

The fresh border tensions between the divided Koreas comes a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reappeared in state propaganda media following a three-week public absence.

The absence had triggered intense rumors about Kim’s health with some reports even suggesting that he may have been dead.

However, on Saturday, the state-run media published Kim’s images from an event in which he appeared to be healthy and moving without any help.

During Kim’s public absence, some media reports even suggested that North Korean leader’s sister Kim Yo-jon, the vice president of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, would now rule the reclusive nation.

The neighbors have been technically at war for over six decades, as the armistice that ended hostilities in the Korean War in 1953 was never replaced with a formal peace treaty.

The 250-kilimeters (150 miles) long and 4-kms wide DMZ continues to be one of the most heavily militarized areas in the world, with around 200 border posts by both countries, apart from an estimated one million landmines buried under the zone.

Multiple skirmishes have taken place on the border since the end of the 1950-1953 war, with the most recent ones taking place in 2017 during the defection of a North Korean soldier.

Tensions have been growing amid deteriorating inter-Korean relations following a thaw in ties in 2018.

The lack of progress of denuclearization talks with the United States, especially in terms of lifting sanctions or reviving cooperation projects between the two Koreas, has led the North Korea regime to adopt an even more hostile stance towards both Seoul and Washington. EFE-EPA


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