Seoul, South Korea — North Korea fired artillery shells near its maritime borders with South Korea on Tuesday night, a day after the South began annual military drills to better deal with North Korean provocations.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement Wednesday that North Korea had fired about 100 shells off its west coast and 150 shells off its east coast. South Korea’s military has repeatedly broadcast messages asking North Korea to stop firing, but there have been no reports of violence between the rivals.
The South Korean military said the shells did not land in South Korean territorial waters but fell inside maritime buffer zones established by the two Koreas under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement aimed at reduce front-line animosities.
It is the second time North Korea has fired shells into the buffer zones since last Friday, when it fired hundreds of shells there in its most significant direct violation of the 2018 agreement.
South Korea’s military said North Korea must end provocations that undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. He added that he was stepping up his military preparedness and, in coordination with the United States, was closely monitoring North Korea’s movements.
The North’s artillery tests attract less outside attention than its missile launches. But its forward-deployed long-range artillery guns pose a serious threat to the security of South Korea’s populous metropolitan area, located about 40 to 50 kilometers (25 to 30 miles) from the border with Korea. North.
In recent weeks, North Korea has conducted a series of weapons tests in what it calls mock nuclear strikes on South Korean and US targets in response to their “dangerous military exercises” involving a carrier. American planes. North Korea sees regular military drills between Washington and Seoul as a rehearsal for an invasion.
North Korea’s military said Friday’s artillery drills were intended to issue a warning to South Korea for holding live-fire drills in a border area the North calls a “reckless provocation”. South Korea’s military said its training did not violate the 2018 agreement.
On Monday, the South Korean military began its annual 12-day field exercises to improve its operational capabilities in response to various types of North Korean provocations. He said an unknown number of US soldiers will participate in this year’s exercises.
North Korea has tested 15 missiles since resuming testing activities on September 25. One was an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan and demonstrated range capable of reaching the US Pacific territory of Guam and beyond.
Some foreign experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would eventually 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 restrictions. economic sanctions against the North.