‘North Korea scales down an­nual tank fir­ing con­test’

The Sunday Guardian - - World - IANS

SEOUL: North Korea has re­duced the size of an an­nual fir­ing con­test for its ar­moured units in 2018 and its top leader Kim Jong-un ab­stained from at­tend­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, ap­par­ently due to the on­go­ing peace cli­mate in the penin­sula, the South Korean gov­ern­ment said on Sat­ur­day.

Kim did not at­tend the com­pe­ti­tion, held within the first six months of 2018, which he had at­tended in 2016 and 2017, Efe news re­ported quot­ing the South Korean gov­ern­ment.

“The North Korean mili­tary held a mo­bil­i­sa­tion and fir­ing com­pe­ti­tion among its tank units in a bor­der area last week. But the num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing units and equip­ment de­creased re­mark­ably from 2017,” ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment source.

The tank fir­ing con­test is held in front­line ar­eas and func­tions as train­ing for ar­moured units, al­though it is car­ried out in a man­ner sim­i­lar to a real bat­tle, which has led to crit­i­cism from Seoul in the past. Tanks are scored by their speed and how well they fire at mov­ing and fixed tar­gets, apart from their abil­ity to avoid ob­sta­cles.

South Korean of­fi­cials have said the down­sis­ing of the com­pe­ti­tion is re­lated to im­proved re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries af­ter the in­ter-Korean sum­mit held on 27 April. The mil­i­taries of South Korea and the US have also car­ried out their an­nual joint ex­er­cises more dis­creetly ahead of the up­com­ing his­toric meet­ing be­tween Kim and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Singapore on 12 June.

Kim Jong-un

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