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North Korea fires artillery shells at Seoul as 'serious warning' | Military News

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North Korea fired 250 rounds off the east and west coasts near the South Korean border after Seoul began defensive exercises.

North Korea fired artillery shells from the east and west coasts a day after South Korea launched annual defense exercises aimed at boosting Pyongyang’s ability to respond to nuclear and missile threats.

North Korea fired about 100 rounds from the west coast and 150 from the east coast late Tuesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement early on Wednesday.

He said the shells did not land in South Korean territorial waters, but landed in naval buffer zones that the two Koreas created under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement aimed at reducing front-line hostilities.

The incident marks the second time that shells have been fired into the buffer zones since North Korea fired hundreds of shells last Friday in its most significant direct violation of the 2018 agreement.

“We strongly urge North Korea to immediately cease its actions,” the JCS said in a statement.

“North Korea’s continued provocations are actions that undermine the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community,” it said.

Hours later, a spokesman for the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) said the shooting was designed to send a “serious warning” to South Korea in response to its own artillery training conducted in the eastern border area on Tuesday. Seoul did not immediately confirm whether it had carried out such firing.

South Korea’s Hoguk exercise, which ends Saturday, is the latest in a series of military exercises it has conducted in recent weeks, including joint activities with the United States and Japan.

The KPA Joint Chiefs of Staff said that South Korea “is going wild with war exercises against the north”.

“Once again, to send a heavy warning, KPA troops on the Eastern and Western fronts fired threatening, warning fire into the eastern and western seas on the night of 18 October as a strong military measure.” said in a statement released by state media KCNA.

“The enemies must immediately put an end to the reckless and provocative provocations that have escalated military tensions on the front line.”

North Korea’s artillery tests get less attention than missile launches. But forward-deployed long-range artillery poses a serious security threat to South Korea’s crowded metropolitan area, located about 40 to 50 km (25 to 30 miles) from the North Korean border.

In recent weeks, North Korea has conducted what it calls simulations of nuclear strikes against South Korean and US targets in response to “dangerous military exercises” involving a US aircraft carrier. Pyongyang views regular military exercises between Washington and Seoul as a rehearsal for the invasion.

North Korea has tested 15 missiles since it resumed testing activities on September 25. One was a medium-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan and exhibited a range that could reach the Pacific US region of Guam and beyond.

Tokyo on Tuesday imposed additional sanctions on North Korea targeting five entities, including Pyongyang’s Ministry of Rocket Industry and four trading firms.

“North Korea continues a series of provocative actions with high frequency, such as firing ballistic missiles 23 times this year,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in announcing the new measures.

He added that Pyongyang’s actions were “violent” and “totally unacceptable”.

South Korea imposed its first unilateral sanctions against North Korea in nearly five years, blacklisting 15 North Korean individuals and 16 institutions on Friday.

Some foreign experts say that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will ultimately aim to use his expanded arsenal of weapons to pressure the United States and others to accept his country as a legitimate nuclear state and lift economic sanctions against North Korea.