|This photo, released in March 2020 by North Korea's official Korean Central Television, shows the country's artillery units firing shells. Yonhap|
North Korea fired a barrage of artillery shells into a maritime buffer zone for a second consecutive day Tuesday in response to live-fire drills between South Korea and the United States.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the North fired about 90 artillery rounds from 10 a.m. through the afternoon from Kosong County in Kangwon Province toward the East Sea. About 10 more firings were detected after 6 p.m. from Kumgang County in the same province, the JSC said.
The shells splashed into the maritime buffer zone north of the Northern Limit Line, a de facto sea border, in violation of the 2018 inter-Korean military accord to reduce border tensions, the JSC added.
North Korea confirmed the firings later in the day, saying it launched 82 shots from multiple rocket launchers for 8 1/2 hours in response to military drills between South Korea and the U.S. near the border.
"The successive artillery firings into the eastern maritime buffer zone are a clear violation of the Sept. 19 military accord, and we strongly urge the North to immediately halt them," the JCS said.
On Monday, the North fired some 130 artillery shells into eastern and western buffer zones.
Earlier Tuesday, North Korea's military said it ordered artillery firing into the sea in response to the live-fire drills conducted between South Korea and the U.S. at border units in Cheorwon County, 71 kilometers northeast of Seoul.
The General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA) said it detected the South Korean military's firing of artillery from multiple rocket launchers and howitzers in frontline areas from around 9:15 a.m. following similar military actions on Monday, according to a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
"We immediately ordered frontline artillery units to launch artillery firing into the sea to issue a strong warning," an unnamed KPA General Staff spokesperson said in the statement.
The KPA issued a separate statement later in the day and said it had fired 82 shells of multiple rocket launchers for 8 1/2 hours as a counteraction and warning "against the enemy's planned sinister provocation attempt."
The North claimed South Korea has been shifting the blame on it, though the South has conducted acts that violate the 2018 inter-Korean accord, which "should be calculated first."
"The KPA seriously warns the enemy side once again to stop at once the irritating military actions in the area close to the front," the statement read. "To put it flatly, our military counteraction against the continued provocative actions of the enemies will be more offensive as the days go by."
Seoul's defense ministry defended the South Korea-U.S. military live-fire drills as "normal" ones that proceeded outside a ground buffer zone set under the inter-Korean accord.
"We can never accept the act of the North wrongfully criticizing the normal South Korea-U.S. training and repeatedly firing artillery shots into the sea in violation of the Sept. 19 military accord," the ministry said in a statement.
It warned "all responsibilities" for what would result from the "unilateral, continued" breach of the accord rest with the North. (Yonhap)