N Korea fires artillery shells in grave warning to Seoul

TEHRAN, Oct. 19 (MNA) – North Korea has fired artillery shells off its eastern and western coasts, a day after South Korea kicked off annual defence drills aimed at boosting its ability to respond to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement early on Wednesday that North Korea fired about 100 shells off its west coast and 150 rounds off its east coast late on Tuesday, Al Jazeera reported.

It said the shells did not land in South Korean territorial waters but fell inside maritime buffer zones the two Koreas established under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement aimed at reducing front-line animosities.

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

Hours later, a spokesperson for the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) said that the shots were designed to send a “grave warning” to South Korea in response to its own artillery training that took place earlier on Tuesday in an eastern border region. Seoul did not immediately confirm if it had conducted any such firings.

South Korea’s Hoguk drills, which are due to end on Saturday, are 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 General Staff said South Korea’s “war drill against the north is going on in a frantic manner”.

“In order to send a grave warning once again, it made sure that KPA units on the east and west fronts conducted a threatening, warning fire toward the east and west seas in the night of October 18, as a powerful military countermeasure,” it said in a statement released by state media KCNA.

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

North Korea has test-launched 15 missiles since it resumed testing activities on September 25. 

ZZ/PR

News Code 192642

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