The two Koreas exchanged warning displays near the sea border amid tensions

SEOUL, Oct 24 (Reuters) – North and South Korea exchanged warning shots off the west coast on Monday, accusing each other of violating their maritime boundaries amid heightened military tensions.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it broadcast warnings and fired warning shots at 3:40 a.m. (1840 GMT) to watch for a North Korean merchant ship that crossed the northern demarcation line, the de facto maritime boundary. Sunday).

The North’s military said a South Korean naval vessel violated the NLL and fired 10 rocket-propelled grenades after it fired warning shots “on the pretext of tracking an unidentified vessel”.

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“We have ordered initial countermeasures to forcefully take out the enemy warship,” a spokesman for the General Staff of the North Korean People’s Army said, according to the official KCNA news agency.

The JCS said it had conducted a “normal operation” in response to the border incursion, and said the North’s move violated a 2018 bilateral military agreement banning “hostile acts” in border areas.

“We reiterate our call to North Korea to immediately stop its continued provocations and accusations that harm the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community,” the JCS said in a statement.

The latest firefight comes amid heightened tensions, with the North carrying out weapons tests at an unprecedented pace this year.

In recent weeks, North Korea has fired short-range missiles and hundreds of artillery pieces along its east and west coasts on multiple occasions in protest against South Korea’s military actions.

South Korea’s troops last week began their annual Hokuk self-defense drills, which are designed to run until Oct. 28 and boost their own and joint capabilities with the United States to counter the North’s nuclear and missile threats.

As part of the program, South Korean naval forces said on Monday they would conduct four days of exercises off the west coast, bringing together about 20 warships, including their Aegis-equipped destroyers and American assets such as Apache attack helicopters and A-10s. Attack aircraft.

Pyongyang reacted angrily to the drills, calling them provocations and threatening countermeasures. Seoul and Washington say their drills are defensive and aimed at deterring the North.

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Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Diane Croft, Stephen Coates and Jerry Doyle

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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