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North and South Korea in border gunfire exchange

October 19, 2014

North and South Korea have exchanged gunfire along their border for the second time in less than 10 days. Recent talks aimed at reducing tensions failed to produce an agreement.

North Korea border with South Korea
Image: AFP/Getty Images

Border guards from North and South Korea on Sunday briefly exchanged fire along the heavily fortified border dividing the two countries.

The shootout occurred when a South Korean border patrol fired warning shots after spotting North Korean troops approaching the border within the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that straddles the actual frontier, according to a defense ministry official from the South. He said the exchange that arose when the North Koreans shot back lasted only 10 minutes.

No casualties were reported, but it was the second time in less than 10 days that such an incident has occurred, highlighting continuing military tensions between the two countries, which remain technically at war even more than 60 years after the Korean War concluded in 1953, as no peace treaty was signed.

The earlier incident arose on October 10 when the North's military tried to shoot down balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets launched by South Korean activists. South Korean troops responded to the machine-gun fire in kind, but, again, there were no reported casualties

A few days earlier still, North and South Korean naval patrol boats traded warning fire near a disputed border in the Yellow Sea.

The border incidents have jeopardized an agreement reached earlier this month to resume high-level talks suspended since February.

High-level military talks held last Wednesday at the North's instigation failed to achieve any reduction in border tensions, with the North later accusing the South of trying to subvert its peaceful intentions.

tj/nm (AP, dpa, AFP)