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South Korea Fires Warning Shots As North Korean Soldiers Cross Border Amid Tensions

South Korean military fires warning shots as North Korean soldiers briefly cross border amid heightened tensions and construction activities.

Edited By : Swechchha | Updated: Jun 19, 2024 08:44 IST
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South Korean military personnel fired warning shots on Tuesday to deter North Korean soldiers who briefly crossed the land border, marking the second such incident this month, according to South Korea’s military.

The South Korean military has observed heightened construction activities initiated by North Korea along their heavily fortified border. These efforts reportedly involve installing suspected anti-tank barriers, reinforcing roads, and planting landmines. Despite several mine explosions causing casualties among North Korean soldiers, construction continues unabated, as reported by the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Around 20 to 30 North Korean soldiers temporarily crossed the military demarcation line while reportedly engaging in unspecified construction work on the northern side of the border around 8:30 a.m., according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After South Korea issued warnings and fired warning shots, the soldiers withdrew. No further suspicious activity was detected by the South’s military following the incident.

A similar incident occurred on June 11 when South Korea fired warning shots after another group of North Korean soldiers briefly crossed the MDL. The latest episode occurred in a different area along the central frontline region, stated the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who do not believe the North Korean soldiers intentionally crossed the border. North Korea did not retaliate in response.

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South Korea’s military attributed the potential for inadvertent border crossings to dense vegetation, including overgrown trees and plants, that may obscure visibility for North Korean soldiers.

Expressing suspicion, the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that North Korea may escalate its border construction activities, begun in April, possibly to hinder defections of civilians or soldiers to South Korea, reinforcing Pyongyang’s efforts to tighten control over its populace.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff reiterated their close monitoring of North Korean military activities in the frontline area to prevent inadvertent incidents.

These border crossings come amid escalating tensions between the two Koreas, characterized by recent Cold War-style psychological operations and indications of non-compliance with their 2018 landmark military agreement aimed at easing tensions.

The heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, spanning 248 kilometers (154 miles) in length and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in width, has witnessed sporadic violence and confrontations since the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty. It remains littered with an estimated 2 million mines and fortified with barbed wire fences, tank traps, and military personnel on both sides, serving as a poignant reminder of the unresolved conflict.

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First published on: Jun 18, 2024 03:38 PM IST

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