N Korea slams largest-ever S Korean artillery drill

Seoul: North Korea on Sunday slammed the largest-ever artillery drill conducted by the South Korean military as a grave provocation that was endangering regional peace. Uriminzokkiri, North Korea's main internet-based media and propaganda website, said the exercise carried out along the demilitarised zone that separates the two countries on Thursday is an unacceptable challenge to North Korea and showed that the war monger in Seoul will only respond to merciless force. South Korea conducted the drill involving 49 artillery battalions and 300 guns as a show of force to mark the first anniversary of a brief artillery engagement with North Korea on August 20, 2015, Yonhap news agency reported. The exchange of fire resulted from heightened tensions sparked by the land mine attack by North Korea that injured two South Korean soldiers. Last week's exercise aimed to demonstrate Seoul's determination to firmly counter Pyongyang's military provocations. Uriminzokkiri claimed that South Korea has not learned its lesson from the brief artillery exchange in 2015 and warned that its latest action will lead to direct consequences. It also blamed South Korea for 2015's exchange of fire and said that Seoul colluded with Washington to instigate the spike in tensions. The latest verbal attacks comes after the communist country's main newspaper the Rodong Sinmun slammed the exercise on Friday. "In the past, South Korea has been crazy about military provocations driven by a war fever to invade North Korea, but the latest shelling exercise which involved so many artillery units lurking along the front-line is unprecedented," the North's ruling-party-published paper said. The media outlet said the act has enraged the North Korean military and people, warning that "any rash military provocation will result in South Korea paying a high-price penalty."