(Update 2: Adds detail)
Seoul, Nov 2 (EFE).- South Korea launched three air-to-ground precision missiles Wednesday into North Korean waters in response to launches by North Korea, which fired more than 20 missiles earlier in the day, one of which fell into southern waters.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that F-15 and F-16 fighter planes fired these precision missiles “into the open sea in waters north of the Northern Limit Line,” a division separating the waters of both Koreas, to “respond to the provocation,” in what is also the first time that missiles from Seoul have landed in territorial waters of the neighboring country.
Seoul initially detected the launch of three short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Wonsan area on North Korea’s east coast into the Sea of Japan (known in both Koreas as the East Sea) at about 8:51 am (23:51 GMT) Tuesday.
A high-ranking South Korean military official confirmed that one of the North Korean ballistic missiles that crashed into the water 57 kilometers from the South Korean coast across the maritime border.
The event contributes to enormously increasing the tension already felt in the peninsula between the two countries.
“One of them landed on the high seas south of the Northern Limit Line in the East Sea,” authorities reported, adding that this projectile fell 26 kilometers south of the line, 57 kilometers east of the coastal city of Sokcho and 167 kilometers northwest of Ulleung Island, where an alert was issued.
Throughout the day, Pyongyang fired some 20 missiles of distinct nature.
The missile testing, North Korea’s record 36th this year, coincides with the celebration of the first large-scale aerial maneuvers by South Korea and United States Air Forces.
The tension on the peninsula has increased to dangerous levels in recent months, given the incessant northern launches, the maneuvers of the allies and the possibility that Pyongyang will carry out its first nuclear test in five years, as suggested by satellite imagery.
The missile launches forced South Korea to close some air routes on its east coast, affecting flights linking the country with Japan and the United States.
South Korea’s foreign minister Park Jin discussed the launches with his US counterpart Antony Blinken.
The military maneuvers by Pyongyang also come at a time of national mourning in South Korea following the Halloween crush in which over 150 people were killed in central Seoul on Saturday. EFE