Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

North Korea fires more than 60 shells

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People at a train station in Seoul watch a television screen showing images of artillery fire from North Korea.

Agence France-Presse

North Korea fired more than 60 shells near the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong on Saturday, the military said South Korean, the day after a first salvo from Pyongyang which triggered Seoul's response with a live ammunition exercise in the region.

North Korean forces fired more than 60 shells near Yeonpyeong Island between approximately 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the South Korean Army General Staff said, warning Pyongyang against continued firing.

On Friday, North Korea fired more than 200 shells into the Yellow Sea near the two South Korean islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong, located just south of the de facto maritime border between the two countries.

Yeonpyeong, with a population of about 2,000, is located about 115 km west of Seoul and about 10 kilometers south of the North Korean coast.

Also very close to North Korea, Baengnyeong, 4,900 inhabitants, is located about 210 km west of the South Korean capital.

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Friday's shooting caused no casualties or damage, according to Seoul. Residents were ordered to shelters and ferry services connecting the islands to the rest of South Korea were suspended.

This is the biggest escalation on the peninsula since the North Korean military bombed Yeonpyeong in 2010 in response to a South Korean live ammunition drill near the border.

This first North Korean attack against civilians since the Korean War (1950-1953) left four dead, two soldiers and two civilians. The artillery duel lasted about an hour, with each side firing some 200 shells.

The new escalation comes after a volley of bellicose statements from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who has notably threatened in recent days to annihilate South Korea and the United States.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Both Saturday and Friday, North Korean shells landed in one of the buffer zones created in 2018 as part of an agreement between the two neighbors aimed at preventing border military incidents. All live ammunition shooting was prohibited in these areas.

But Seoul partially suspended the deal last November to protest Pyongyang's launch of a spy satellite, and the North rejected the entire deal soon after.

The South Korean military said on Saturday that repeated North Korean artillery fire in the area poses a threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

She issued a stern warning and asked North Korea to stop immediately, assuring that in response, our military will take appropriate measures to safeguard the country.

North Korea, after announcing the complete cancellation of the September 19 military agreement [2018, Editor's note] continues to threaten our citizens with continuous artillery fire #x27;inside the zone prohibiting hostile acts, the army insisted.

North Korea said Friday that its shelling near the two islands was a natural response and a countermeasure to military exercises carried out by Seoul, according to the official KCNA agency.

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik, for his part, denounced a provocative act which threatens peace on the Korean peninsula and aggravates tensions.< /p>

The South Korean military will take immediate, strong and definitive retaliatory measures – we must support peace with overwhelming force, he added.

North Korea in turn ordered South Korea not to commit provocation under the pretext of a so-called countermeasure, according to the KCNA agency. She raised the threat of a harsh countermeasure to an unprecedented level.

China, an ally of North Korea, called on all parties for calm and restraint.

Washington, for its part, called on North Korea North to refrain from any further destabilizing and provocative action, and to resume diplomacy.

At the end of December, Kim Jong-un ordered the #x27;acceleration of military preparations for a war that could be launched at any time.

Last year, Korea The North enshrined its status as a nuclear power in its Constitution and fired several intercontinental ballistic missiles, in violation of UN resolutions.

The two Koreas are still technically at war since the end of the conflict on the peninsula in 1953, which ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.

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