North Korea fired more than 200 artillery rounds on Friday near a disputed maritime border with South Korea in another escalation of tension between the rivals and prompting the South to take “corresponding” action with live fire drills.
North Korea later said it conducted firing drills as a “natural response” to military actions by South Korea’s “military gangsters” in recent days. It also threatened an “unprecedented strong response” if Seoul continued to make provocative moves.
The exchange led residents of two remote South Korean islands on the western maritime frontier to evacuate to bomb shelters at the instruction of the South’s military, before it fired live rounds towards the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL) border.
The firing by North Korea caused no civilian or military damage in the South, South Korea’s military said.
“This is an act of provocation that escalates tension and threatens peace on the Korean peninsula,” South Korea’s Defence Minister Shin Won-sik said as he supervised the firing drills.
The North Korean artillery shells all landed on the northern side of the sea border, a South Korean military spokesman Lee Sung-joon said in a news briefing, adding that the South Korean military has been monitoring the North’s moves along its shores with the cooperation of the U.S. military.
South Korea’s Defence Ministry said Marine brigades based on the Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong islands fired at sea to the south of the NLL border demonstrating “overwhelming operational response.” The South Korean drills involved mechanised artillery and tanks.