N Korea fires artillery shells in ‘grave warning’ to Seoul | Military News

North Korea fires 350 rounds off its east and west coasts near the border with South Korea after Seoul begins defensive drills.

North Korea has fired hundreds of artillery shells off its east and west coasts, while South Korea conducted annual defense drills aimed at bolstering its ability to respond to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said North Korea fired around 250 shells at its east and west coasts late Tuesday and fired another 100 rounds beginning around noon on Wednesday.

It said the shells did not land in South Korean territorial waters, but fell into maritime buffer zones established by the two Koreas as part of a 2018 inter-Korean deal to reduce hostilities on the front lines.

The incident marked the second time North Korea has fired shells into the buffer zones since last Friday, when it launched hundreds of shells there in its most notable direct violation of the 2018 accord.

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“We urge North Korea to cease its actions immediately,” the JCS said in a statement.

“North Korea’s continued provocations are actions that undermine the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community,” she added.

A spokesman for the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) said on Wednesday that the gunfire was intended to send a “serious warning” to South Korea in response to its own artillery training held in an eastern border region earlier Tuesday. Seoul did not immediately confirm whether it carried out such shooting.

South Korea’s Hoguk exercises, due to end on Saturday, are the latest in a series of military exercises it has conducted in recent weeks, including joint activities with the United States and Japan.

The KPA General Staff said South Korea’s “war drills against the North are going on frantically.”

“In order to once again send out a serious warning, she arranged for KPA units on the Eastern and Western Fronts to conduct a menacing warning fire towards the Baltic and Western Seas on the night of October 18 as a powerful military countermeasure,” it said said in a statement released by state media KCNA.

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“Enemies should immediately stop the reckless and inciting provocations that are escalating military tensions in the frontline zone.”

North Korea’s artillery tests attract less attention than its missile launches. But its long-range forward artillery pieces pose a serious security threat to South Korea’s populous metropolitan area, which lies about 40 to 50 km (25 to 30 miles) from the border with North Korea.

In recent weeks, North Korea has conducted a series of weapons tests in so-called simulations of nuclear strikes on South Korean and US targets in response to their “dangerous military exercises” with a US aircraft carrier. Pyongyang regards regular military exercises between Washington and Seoul as an invasion rehearsal.

North Korea has tested 15 missiles since testing activities resumed on September 25. One was an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan and demonstrated a range that could reach the Pacific US territory of Guam and beyond.

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INTERACTIVE missile launches and nuclear tests in North Korea in October 2022

Tokyo on Tuesday imposed additional sanctions on North Korea, targeting five entities including Pyongyang’s Ministry of Missile Industry and four trading companies.

“North Korea continues a series of high-frequency provocative acts, such as firing ballistic missiles 23 times this year,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said when announcing the new measures.

Pyongyang’s actions are “violent” and “completely unacceptable,” he added.

South Korea also imposed its first unilateral sanctions on North Korea in nearly five years, blacklisting 15 North Korean individuals and 16 institutions involved in missile development on Friday.

Some foreign experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would eventually aim to use his expanded arsenal of weapons to pressure the US and others to accept his country as a legitimate nuclear state and lift economic sanctions on North Korea.

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