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(2nd LD) N. Korea fires artillery shells into sea to protest S. Korea-U.S. drills near border

20:19 December 06, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional firings, JSC statement in 2nd para, last 3 paras)
By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired a barrage of artillery shells into an inter-Korean maritime buffer zone for a second consecutive day Tuesday in response to live-fire drills between South Korea and the United States.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the North fired about 90 artillery rounds from 10 a.m. through the afternoon from Kosong County in Kangwon Province toward the East Sea. About 10 more firings were detected after 6 p.m. from Kumgang County in the same province, the JSC said.

The shells splashed into the maritime buffer zone north of the Northern Limit Line, a de facto sea border, in violation of the 2018 inter-Korean military accord to reduce border tensions.

This photo, released in March 2020 by North Korea's official Korean Central Television, shows the country's artillery units firing shells. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

"The successive artillery firings into the eastern maritime buffer zone are a clear violation of the Sept. 19 military accord, and we strongly urge the North to immediately halt them," the JCS said.

On Monday, the North fired some 130 artillery shells into eastern and western buffer zones.

Earlier Tuesday, North Korea's military said it ordered artillery firing into the sea in response to military drills between South Korea and the U.S. near the inter-Korean border.

The North appears to be referring to live-fire drills being conducted between South Korea and the U.S. at border units in Cheorwon County, 71 kilometers northeast of Seoul.

The General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA) said it detected the South Korean military's firing of artillery from multiple rocket launchers and howitzers in frontline areas from around 9:15 a.m. following similar military actions on Monday, according to a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"We immediately ordered frontline artillery units to launch artillery firing into the sea to issue a strong warning," an unnamed KPA General Staff spokesperson said in the statement.

In a statement, Seoul's defense ministry defended the South Korea-U.S. military live-fire drills as "normal" ones that proceeded outside a ground buffer zone set under the 2018 inter-Korean accord.

"We can never accept the act of the North wrongfully criticizing the normal South Korea-U.S. training and repeatedly firing artillery shots into the sea in violation of the Sept. 19 military accord," the ministry said.

It warned "all responsibilities" for what would result from the "unilateral, continued" breach of the accord rest with the North.

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sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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