[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

North Korea announces live-fire exercises

South threatens swift retaliation if ordinance is fired across the border, after weeks of threats and N Korean tests.

Last updated: 31 Mar 2014 03:05
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
South Korea said there would be a response to any aggression [AP]

North Korea announced a live-fire drill near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a "new form" of nuclear test.

There was a swift response from the South Korean military, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff warning of immediate retaliation if any ordinance is fired across the border.

The precise nature of the exercise was unclear, but the Yellow Sea border is an extremely sensitive region that has been the scene of brief but bloody clashes in the past.

In November, 2010, North Korea shelled a South Korean island near the border, killing four people and triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict.

It is not unusual for North Korea to carry out a live-fire exercise, but it does not normally take the precaution of notifying the South in advance.

"The fact that they have sent such a message to us indicates their hostile intention," said South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Wi Yong-Seop.

"The aim is to threaten us and rack up tension on the Yellow Sea border and the overall Korean peninsula," Wi said.

The North's notification designated seven areas close to the border and said all South Korean vessels should be kept away from them.

"We notified the North that we would strongly respond with fire if it fires across the border," a South Korean military official said.

Pyongyang has carried out a series of rocket and short-range missile launches in recent weeks, in a pointed protest at ongoing annual South Korea-US military exercises.

On Wednesday it upped the ante by test-firing two mid-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan.

It was the first medium-range missile launch since 2009 and coincided with a trilateral summit attended by the South, the United States and Japan that focused on presenting a united front to the dangers posed by Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

308

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.