North Korea and South Korea exchange warning shots along maritime border
Seoul, South Korea –
The rival Koreas exchanged warning shots near their disputed western maritime border on Monday, their military said, amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s recent barrage of weapons tests.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that its navy fired warning shots to fend off a North Korean merchant vessel it said violated the maritime boundary on Monday morning.
The North Korean military said it responded by firing 10 artillery shells as a warning to South Korea. He accused a South Korean navy ship of entering North Korean waters.
No clashes between the Koreas were reported.
The poorly marked maritime border off the west coast of the Korean peninsula has been a source of longstanding animosities between the Koreas. It has been the scene of several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes and violence in recent years, including the two 2010 bombings that killed 50 South Koreans.
In recent weeks, North Korea has carried out a series of weapons tests in response to what it calls provocative military exercises between South Korea and the United States. Since September 25, North Korea has fired 15 missiles and hundreds of artillery shells into the sea.
Seoul and Washington regularly conduct military exercises to maintain their preparedness against possible North Korean aggression. The allies say their drills are defensive in nature, but North Korea sees them as a rehearsal for an invasion.
The South Korean military conducts annual field exercises which are due to end on Friday. This year’s exercises involve an unknown number of US troops.
Some experts say North Korea’s recent weapons tests are also designed to bolster its arsenals to increase its leverage in future negotiations with rivals.