North and South Korea exchange fire at border post

2010-10-29 12:03

Seoul – North and South Korean troops exchanged fire after North Korean troops first opened fire at a South Korean army post near their tense border, Seoul’s military said today, heightening tensions of next month’s G20 summit.

The North fired two bullets at a front line guard post at 8.26am today and South Korean soldiers immediately fired three shots in return from a machine gun, said the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“There were no more shots afterwards. We are now closely watching their movements,” said a spokesperson.

He said no South Koreans were hurt in the firing near the demilitarised zone dividing the two nations.

Exchanges of fire break out occasionally near the heavily fortified frontier.

But today’s incident, in the Hwacheon area about 90km northeast of Seoul, came at a sensitive time as the South prepares to host the G20 summit in Seoul from November 11.

Cross-border tensions have been high since the South accused the North of torpedoing one of its warships in March, killing 46 people.

Earlier today, the North said relations would face a “catastrophic impact” if South Korea persisted in rejecting military dialogue aimed at easing tensions on the peninsula.

The first inter-Korean military talks for two years ended without progress in September after Seoul demanded an apology from Pyongyang for the warship sinking.

Pyongyang refuses to accept the findings of a multinational investigation that blamed the tragedy on a North Korean night-time attack. It says it is the victim of a smear campaign.

The communist state’s military offered to hold a second round of talks on October 22. But the South rejected the offer, citing no change in the North’s attitude.

The rejection of dialogue “precisely meant confrontation and war”, the North’s military said in a statement, adding it would “no longer feel any interest in dialogue and contact”.

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