North Korea fired on South Korea’s recently installed propaganda speakers on Thursday at 4 p.m. using counter battery artillery, according to local media.
The attack was directed towards the Yoncheon 28th Division, but the loudspeakers were reportedly undamaged. People living in Hwangsan-li and Sanmgot-li, Yoncheon-gun, Gyeonggi-do have been evacuated from the area.
South Korea reportedly fired back with dozens of 155mm shells, though there was no further response from the DPRK. Seoul will also hold an emergency council meeting on the attack, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
“We have strengthened our military readiness and are closely watching movements of the North’s military,” Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.
The news follows recent reports that North Korea has been strengthening forces and performing extra drills in the area.
Tensions have been high on the peninsula following the injuring of two South Korean soldiers by a mine explosion Seoul has blamed on North Korea, as well as the start of the joint U.S.-ROK Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) drills.
The military exercises involve more than 80,000 troops from a coalition of countries.
“The North Koreans always project it as a propaganda, it’s an aggregation of military resources against them, ganging up on them. But there is paradox that many people don’t realize, that the multinational nature of the coalition restrains the U.S. and ROK. So all the coalition partners are risk-averse and do not wish to get pulled into a war or entrapped into a military conflict,” Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group told NK News.
“So in a way, it’s a good time if you are going to do this, but if it escalates very violently then it’s a very dangerous situation,” Pinkston added.
The weapon used in the attack was also an odd choice, according to Kim Min-seok, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum.
“There’s no way this multi missile barrage could be used accurately against the loudspeakers. The purpose of this weapon is to strike a wide area,” Kim told NK News.
The attack could instead have been a way to test South Korean response times, or tire out U.S. and ROK troops, however Kim stressed it would be very difficult to uncover North Korea’s true intentions.
Over the weekend, the DPRK said the propaganda speakers were a declaration of war and threatened to bomb them.
North Korea is also usually very critical of the joint military drills. According to the NK News KCNA Watch data tool, the Korean Central News Agency has published 12 articles on the issue since the start of August.
Image: www.Army.mil by The U.S. Army on 2008-09-02 10:56:08
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