North, South Korea square off after exchange of fire

2015-08-21 07:21

Seoul - North Korea has put front-line troops on full combat readiness against the South, a media report said Friday, amid escalation of tensions between the rival nations.

The North's leader Kim Jong Un said there was a "quasi state of war", the Yonhap News Agency reported, citing North Korean state media.

Commanders were sent to the front line "to destroy psychological warfare tools if the enemy does not stop the propaganda broadcast within 48 hours," the report said.

North Korea on Thursday fired at a propaganda loudspeaker in the South which had been restarted after an 11-year silence.

Seoul said the broadcasts were resumed in response to a landmine in the Demilitarised Zone that blew the legs off two South Korean soldiers on patrol, and which the South says was laid by the North.

South Korean forces returned fire after the North's salvo on Thursday, and civilians were evacuated from near the western part of the border where the North Korean shells landed, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Seoul also on Friday said it would limit the entry of its citizens into the jointly run industrial park at Kaesong in North Korean territory, allowing only its managers directly involved in operations in and out, Yonhap reported.

Kim ordered his top commanders to prepare for military action, according to Korean Central Television.

North Korea has threatened further military action if South Korea does not stop its propaganda campaign.

The North's military was thought "likely to launch provocations after 17:00 on Saturday," Defence Minister Han Min Koo told a meeting of military commanders Friday, according to another Yonhap report.

North and South Korea fought the Korean War from 1950-53. The war ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically still at war.

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