North Korean ship crosses sea boundary, South Korean ships fire warning shots: report


South Korea exchanged warning shots with its northern neighbor early Monday and both country’s militaries are accusing the other of violating their sea boundaries.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said its navy fired warning shots to repel a North Korean merchant ship that it says violated the sea boundary. North Korea’s military, in turn, said it responded by firing 10 rounds of artillery shells as a warning to South Korea. It accused a South Korean navy ship of intruding into North Korean waters.

There were no reports of clashes between the Koreas, but the exchange came amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s recent barrage of weapons tests.

The poorly marked sea boundary off the Korean Peninsula’s west coast is a source of long-running animosities between the Koreas. It’s a scene of several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes and violence in recent years, including the two attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans.

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In recent weeks, North Korea has carried out a string of weapons tests in response to what it calls provocative military drills between South Korea and the United States. Since Sept. 25, North Korea has fired 15 missiles and hundreds of artillery shells toward the sea.

Seoul and Washington routinely conduct military drills to maintain their readiness against potential North Korean aggressions. The allies say their drills are defensive in nature, but North Korea views them as a dress rehearsal for invasion. 

South Korean military is under annual field exercises set to end this Friday. This year’s drills involve an unspecified number of U.S. troops.

Some experts say North Korea’s recent weapons tests are also designed to bolster its arsenals to boost its leverage in future negotiations with its rivals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

South Korea fired warning shots at a North Korean merchant ship early Monday after the vessel violated the country’s territorial waters, according to the military.

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