‘Tit-for-tat’ warning: North Korea fires shells into buffer zone with South

South Korea says the North has fired a barrage of artillery shells into a maritime buffer zone. Pyongyang says it was a warning against Seoul’s “provocative actions.”

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that about 130 artillery rounds were simultaneously fired from two separate sites, one on North Korea’s east coast and one on the west coast, on Monday. It said the barrage was a “clear violation” of the 2018 agreement between Pyongyang and Seoul that established the buffer zone to lower tensions.

None of the shells crossed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border between the two countries, according to the military. It has, however, issued “several warnings” over the barrage. “Our military is strengthening its readiness posture in preparation for emergencies while tracking and monitoring related developments under close cooperation between South Korea and the United States.”

North Korea’s military said in a statement the move was a “tit for tat warning” against multiple artillery firings by the South. It said “dozens of projectiles supposed to be the shells of multiple rocket launchers” had been fired by the South.

Seoul did not mention any exercises, but local reports said the South Korean and US militarizes were conducting firing drills in the region.

North Korea’s army “will always take account of all provocative actions of the enemy and respond with resolute and overwhelming military action,” the military stated.

North Korea has repeatedly fired artillery shells into the buffer zone in recent months. The nuclear-armed country has tested a record number of missiles this year in response to Washington’s massive land, naval and aerial war games along with South Korean and Japanese forces in the region – measures North Korea regards as practice drills to invade the country.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said last month that his ultimate goal was to possess the world’s most powerful strategic force.

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