South Korea fires warning shots as North Korean soldiers cross border

World Tuesday 18/June/2024 12:45 PM
South Korea fires warning shots as North Korean soldiers cross border

Seoul: South Korea's military said that a group of 20 to 30 North Korean soldiers crossed the border early Tuesday morning, prompting South Korean forces to respond with warning shots. The incident occurred around 8:30 am local time in the central part of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), according to Yonhap news agency citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The JCS clarified that the North Korean soldiers swiftly retreated after South Korean forces fired the warnings shots, indicating that the crossing was likely unintentional. A similar event occurred just over a week ago in the same DMZ sector.

Additionally, South Korean military officials said that several North Korean soldiers had been injured or killed in recent landmine explosions near the border, though the exact timing of these incidents was not specified. The DMZ and its surroundings are notorious for being heavily fortified and mined, making it one of the world's most heavily militarised borders, according to Yonhap News agency.

"Numerous casualties have resulted from multiple landmine explosions in the frontline area," stated the JCS during a briefing.

Last November, North Korea announced its decision to nullify a 2018 military agreement with South Korea and escalated its troop presence along the border. This action followed South Korea's suspension of parts of the agreement in response to North Korea's launch of its first military reconnaissance satellite, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Since then, the area has witnessed heightened military activity, with reports from the JCS indicating North Korea's efforts to fortify the border by removing infrastructure like streetlights and railway tracks, installing anti-tank barriers, and laying additional mines to create a more secure buffer zone.

The latest border incident coincides with preparations by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to host Russian President Vladimir Putin in Pyongyang, underscoring the deepening ties between the two countries. In a letter published in the Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's ruling Workers' Party newspaper, Putin highlighted the strong bilateral relations and emphasised their joint efforts to establish alternative trade mechanisms free from Western control and promote a framework of equal security in Eurasia, Al Jazeera reported.

Putin and Kim last met in eastern Russia in September last year, continuing discussions aimed at bolstering diplomatic and strategic cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang.