North Korea holds live-fire drill near dis­puted bor­der

Daily Trust - - MIDDLE EAST & ASIA -

North Korea has be­gun a live­fire drill near the dis­puted in­ter-Korean western mar­itime bor­der, South Korean of­fi­cials say.

It is the sec­ond time in a month that Py­ongyang has car­ried out such ex­er­cises.

South Korea’s de­fence min­istry said it was no­ti­fied early on Tues­day that drills would take place near two is­lands west of the Korean penin­sula. A South Korean spokesman said its mil­i­tary was “fully pre­pared”.

Fir­ing be­gan around 14:00 (05:00GMT), Reuters news agency quoted a mil­i­tary of­fi­cial as say­ing, and so far, no rounds had fallen south of the bor­der.

That was the trig­ger last month for the South Kore­ans to re­turn fire.

The area has long been a flash­point be­tween the two Koreas. The UN drew the western bor­der af­ter the Korean War, but North Korea has never recog­nised it. A sim­i­lar North Korean ex­er­cise at the end of March re­sulted in the two sides ex­chang­ing hun­dreds of rounds of ar­tillery fire.

“The North no­ti­fied us there would be live-fire drills to­day north of the [bor­der] near Yeon­pyeong and Baengnyeong is­lands,” a de­fence min­istry spokesman told AFP news agency. Both is­lands are hotspots. In Novem­ber 2010, North Korea fired shells at

Seoul says Py­ongyang tor­pe­doed the ves­sel but North Korea de­nies any role in the in­ci­dent.

North Korea car­ried out a sim­i­lar drill on March 31 dur­ing which shells dropped into South’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters [EPA].

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