North and South Korea shelled each other’s militaries on their western border Thursday afternoon, according to the South Korean defense ministry.
The North Korean shells were initially aimed at loudspeakers that had been broadcasting anti-North Korean messages, touting South Korean democracy, and reporting on the news of the world, South Korean officials said said last week. Radio and loudspeaker warfare has existed on and off on the Korean peninsula for decades.
North Korea recently threatened “indiscriminate attacks” on the South Korean loudspeakers if they weren’t shut down. South Korea responded by saying that it was ready to fight back.
This appears to be the first time in five years that weapons were fired across the 63 year-old border. It is also the most serious such exchange in decades. Both countries have technically been at war for 65 years.
The military action comes just days after reports that North Korea was “flexing muscles” on the border, intensifying artillery firing drills and opening weapon portholes.
The South launched its loudspeaker campaign after two of its soldiers were wounded by stepping on landmines in an incident that it blamed on the North.
(URGENT) N. Korea fires shells at S. Korean military along western border http://t.co/vunVmGsimm
— Yonhap News Agency (@YonhapNews) August 20, 2015
South Korean radar picked up what appeared to be North Korean military shells at 3:52 p.m. local time, according to Yonhap News, a major South Korean news organization, which cited a South Korean defense ministry official.
The South reportedly fired dozens of shells back at the North and convened a weekend meeting of its national-security council.
South Korean residents were evacuated from the border area as the exchange took place.
The extent of damages on both sides of the border remains unclear.
As news spread of the sustained violence on the world’s most heavily armed border, other reports emerged about North and South Korean soldiers exchanging fire.
if reports are confirmed its likely at this moment ROK border troops are returning fire on DPRK units that fired.
— Nathan J Hunt (@ISNJH) August 20, 2015