N Korea orders new artillery fire over US-S Korea drills

Order comes a day after North Korea said it fired more than 130 shells into the sea off its east and west coasts.

A South Korean soldier stands guard at a guard post near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea
A South Korean soldier stands guard at a guard post near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, on November 4, 2022 [File: Kim Hong-Ji/ Reuters]

North Korea’s military has ordered front-line units to fire artillery into the sea for a second consecutive day in what it called a response to drills by the United States and South Korean forces in an inland border region.

The order on Tuesday came a day after North Korea fired about 130 artillery rounds into waters near its western and eastern sea boundaries with South Korea.

A spokesman for the North Korean military said the latest planned artillery barrage was meant as a “strong warning” to Seoul and was in response to signs of South Korean artillery exercises in the border region.

The official called on Seoul to immediately stop its “provocative” military actions.

The South Korean and United States militaries are currently conducting live-fire exercises involving multiple rocket launching systems and howitzers in two separate testing grounds in the Cheorwon region, which began on Monday and will continue until Wednesday.

The allies say the drills are necessary to deter nuclear-armed North Korea, which tested a record number of missiles this year and has made preparations to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.

On the day the exercises started, North Korea’s military said it detected dozens of South Korean projectiles flying southeast from the Cheorwon region and instructed its western and eastern coastal units to fire artillery as a warning.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said those shells that North Korea fired fell within the northern side of buffer zones created under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce military tensions and urged Pyongyang to abide by the agreement.

It was the first time North Korea had fired weapons into the maritime buffer zones since November 3, when about 80 artillery shells landed within the North Korean side of the zone off its eastern coast.

In addition to the artillery fire, North Korea has launched dozens of missiles this year, including multiple tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile system potentially capable of reaching the US mainland.

North Korea has also conducted a series of short-range launches it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and US targets in an angry reaction to an expansion of joint US-South Korea military exercises that North Korea views as rehearsals for a potential invasion.

Experts say North Korea hopes to negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength and force the US to accept it as a nuclear power.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies