Sun, May 29, 2016 - Page 4 News List

N Korea threatens S Korean warships

AP, SEOUL

North Korea yesterday threatened to fire at South Korean warships if they cross into its waters, a day after the South Korean Navy fired warning shots to chase away two North Korean ships that briefly crossed a disputed western sea boundary.

In a statement released through state media, the North Korean General Staff Department of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) called the South’s action a “reckless military provocation” meant to kill the chances for dialogue between the nations.

The KPA said that the North’s ships were unarmed and within North Korea’s sea territory when “many armed ships” from South Korea approached them and fired without warning.

South Korea said one navy ship issued an audible warning before firing five rounds of warning shots to repel a North Korean military vessel and a fishing boat that briefly crossed into South Korean-controlled waters on Friday morning.

The KPA said it would directly fire without warning at South Korean warships if they intrude into North Korean waters by “even 0.001mm.”

“This reckless military provocation was evidently prompted by a premeditated sinister plot to bedevil the North-South relations and further aggravate the tension on the Korean Peninsula,” the KPA said about Friday’s incident.

Minor incidents are not unusual on the western sea boundary, which was drawn unilaterally by the US-led UN command at the end of the 1950 to 1953 Korean War and which North Korea does not recognize.

North Korea and South Korea have also fought three bloody naval skirmishes in the area since 1999.

South Korea also fired warning shots after a North Korean patrol boat moved south of the boundary in February.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff released a statement saying that the nation’s military followed proper procedures to chase away the North’s ships and called the KPA’s claim of the response being a military provocation “ridiculous.”

Since North Korea held a rare ruling party congress earlier this month, it has been demanding the South accept its calls to resume talks after months of animosities touched off by Pyongyang’s nuclear test in January.

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