Anxious islanders on the front line are evacuated as both countries exchange fire across their disputed western maritime border.
Video: North And South Korea Exchange Live Fire
South Korea says it has fired shells into North Korean waters in response to live fire drills carried out by Pyongyang.
Residents of a South Korean island on the front line were evacuated as both countries exchanged fire across their disputed western maritime border.
Anxious residents sought refuge in shelters on Yeonpyeong island, where in 2010, North Korean artillery killed four South Koreans.
One islander, Kang Myeong-sung, said he did not see any fighter jets but could hear the boom of the shells.
North Korea had announced it was going to conduct some military drills.
Sky’s Asia Correspondent Mark Stone said: “These are worrying developments … but no one has been injured, no one has been killed and indeed none of these rockets or missiles landed on any military installations or any land, so this is effectively both sides showing their strength.”
N Korea announces live-fire drill, driving up tensions
North Korea announced a live-fire drill Monday near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a “new form” of nuclear test.
SEOUL: North Korea announced a live-fire drill Monday near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a “new form” of nuclear test.
The South’s Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed government official, said the exercise began around 12:15pm (0315 GMT), with artillery shells landing in North Korean waters, north of the South-controlled Baengnyeong island.
There was no immediate official confirmation that the drill was under way, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) warned of immediate retaliation if any ordinance landed on the South side of the border.
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 notify 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, adding that Seoul was closely monitoring the situation.
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 JCS official told reporters.
Monday’s announcement came a day after North Korea threatened to carry out a “new form” of nuclear test — seen as a possible reference to efforts to build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.
Two Koreas trade fire across maritime border: military
North and South Korea traded fire across their disputed maritime border on Monday, with the South’s military saying it had responded to shells landing in its waters from a North live-fire drill.
SEOUL: North and South Korea traded fire across their disputed maritime border on Monday, with the South’s military saying it had responded to shells landing in its waters from a North live-fire drill.
“Some of the shells fired by North Korea dropped in our area and our side responded with fire,” a spokesman for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP.
There was no indication that either side was firing at any particular target.
On South-Korea-controlled Baengnyeong island, close to the maritime boundary, officials said residents had been taken to shelters as a precaution.
“We are urging all residents to evacuate to shelters right now, and some have already done so,” a town hall official on the island told AFP.
North Korea earlier announced a live-fire drill Monday near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a “new form” of nuclear test.
South Korea returns fire after North Korean shells land in disputed waters
- theguardian.com, Monday 31 March 2014 02.57 EDT
South Korean islanders fled to shelters as their country’s forces returned the North’s fire near a disputed sea boundary on Monday, amid renewed tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The skirmish in the Yellow or Western Sea came a day after Pyongyang warned that it could carry out a “new kind” of nuclear test , and followed multiple missile tests by the North. Experts have also warned that it could be harder to predict the country’s actions given the recent political turbulence which saw its youthful leader Kim Jong-un purge his uncle Jang Song-taek.
No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, an official with South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff told Associated Press. Unusually, the North warned in advance that it planned to hold a live-fire drill; when a shell landed south of the disputed boundary, the South, which had warned it would respond, returned fire into North Korean waters.
Tensions are common at this time of year because of the North’s anger at annual joint military exercises by the South and the US, but the exchange of fire was the most dramatic incident near the northern limit line since 2010.
The South scrambled F-15 fighters to patrol its side of the border and authorities evacuated the residents of five frontline islands to shelters. Kang Myeong-sung, a resident speaking to AP from a shelter on Yeonpyeong, said he did not see any fighter jets, but he could hear the boom of artillery fire. In 2010, North Korean artillery killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong; Pyongyang said it was responding to the South’s exercises.