North and South Korea exchange artillery fire in latest tensions

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Image: North Korea and South Korea DMZ / Shutterstock

Artillery fire was exchanged between the two Koreas near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on Thursday afternoon in the latest flare up in tensions.

Just before 4 p.m. local time, North Korea fired a shell at South Korea, possibly towards a loudspeaker that had been playing anti-Pyongyang messages.

According to the New York Times, South Korea’s radar system detected North Korea’s shell, which prompted South Korea’s military to return the fire with a dozen shells at where the North Korean shell was fired from.

The violence did not escalate as North Korea did not return South Korea’s retaliation fire.

No injuries or damage have been reported on either side as the shells landed in remote areas, but it has prompted evacuations at South Korea’s border towns, including Yeoncheon where the North Korean shell fell. An emergency meeting of South Korea’s National Security Council was also convened.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated under the rule of dictator Kim Jong Un. The latest incident comes just weeks after two South Korean soldiers were injured by a landmine within the DMZ, with the South alleging it was recently planted by Pyongyang.

Shortly after, Seoul began using its loudspeakers to broadcast anti-Pyongyang messages across the border. This was the first time the speakers were used in 11 years, which angered North Korea and led to threats that it would attack the speakers.

And last fall, machine gun fire was exchanged between the two sides when North Korea attacked balloons launched by activists in South Korea. The balloons were carrying anti-Pyongyang messages.

Both Koreas are still technically at war as the Korean War in the 1950s ended with an armistice.

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