Conflicts & War

Two Koreas exchange warning shots along Yellow Sea border

Seoul, Oct 24 (EFE).- The two Koreas on Monday exchanged warning shots along their western maritime border, another sign of escalating tensions in the peninsula.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement that a North Korean commercial vessel crossed the disputed maritime boundary, Northern Limit Line, some 27 kilometers (17 miles) northeast of Baengnyeong Island in the West Sea (name given to the Yellow Sea in the two Koreas) at around 3:42 am on Monday.

The South Korean army issued warning messages and fired warning shots, it added, local news agency Yonhap reported.

Shortly afterward, the North said that a South Korean warship crossed the maritime border 20 km northwest of Paekryong Island at around 3:50 am on Monday and opened “warning” fire on the pretext of controlling an unidentified ship.

“The KPA General Staff ordered the coastal defense units on the western front to keep strict monitoring and counteraction readiness and made sure they took an initial countermeasure to powerfully expel the enemy warship by firing 10 shells of multiple rocket launchers toward the territorial waters, where naval enemy movement was detected, at 5:15 pm,” a North Korean army spokesperson said in a statement, state agency KCNA reported.

Drawn by the US-led United Nations Command at the end of the Korean War in 1953, the NLL is not recognized by Pyongyang and has been the scene of fighting in 1999, 2002, 2009 and 2010 that have resulted in casualties on both sides.

The two countries signed a military agreement in 2018, in which they pledged to avoid maneuvers or live fire drills in these areas.

The South’s JCS said that the North’s launch of 10 artillery shells, which began at around 5:14 am, violated that agreement.

It also called on the North to cease the repeated “provocations” and hostile arguments saying that they harmed peace and stability.

Shortly after the exchange of warning fire, the South Korean navy announced large-scale drills in the Yellow Sea until Oct. 27.

The four-day training is being held as part of the annual ongoing Hoguk drills and is aimed at enhancing the military’s combined and joint maritime operational capabilities against enemy provocations, the navy said, according to Yonhap.

The maneuvers will involve about 20 South Korean warships, including frigates and destroyers equipped with the Aegis missile system, F-15K and F-16 fighter jets and the US army’s Apache helicopters and A-10 aircraft, the navy added.

Tensions in the region are escalating to levels similar to those in 2017 amid a spate of recent missile launches by North Korea, to which Seoul and Washington have retaliated with their own show of force.

Satellite images also indicate that Pyongyang has been ready for months to conduct a new nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017. EFE


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