North Korea sends warplanes near the border with South Korea

SEOUL (AP) — South Korea sent in warplanes overnight Thursday after North Korean warplanes flew near the border dividing the two countries. The move, which was widely seen as a provocation even by Pyongyang’s standards, came as North Korea launched another ballistic missile early Friday, the latest in several recent weapons tests by Kim Jong Un’s regime.

The North Korean planes flew as close as seven miles north of a de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Pyongyang’s fighter jets were also spotted just over a dozen miles north of a land border.

The incidents occurred between Thursday night and early Friday, and some 10 Pyongyang fighter jets were involved. North Korea also sent fighter jets near the South last week, but the latest flights, seen as highly unusual, have come even closer to Seoul’s airspace. The South Korean military said it “conducted an emergency sortie with its superior air force, including F-35A fighter jets”, but no clashes were reported.

Seoul also said Pyongyang had fired artillery shells at maritime buffer areas established in 2018 as part of inter-Korean peace efforts.

“The [North] The Korean People’s Army sends a stern warning to the South Korean military inciting military tension in the frontline area with reckless action,” a spokesman for the North Korean military’s General Staff said, according to a statement released. by the state-owned Central News. Agency.

North Korea says it tested nuclear-capable missiles aimed at South Korea

The official said the “countermeasures” were in response to earlier South Korean artillery fire that lasted about 10 hours. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it had conducted artillery exercises at a site just south of the border with North Korea, but that the exercises did not violate a 2018 military agreement.

“To mark his 10th year in office, Kim Jong Un needs to become a heroic leader, and he has nothing but nuclear weapons to boast of as an achievement,” said Uk Yang, a military strategy expert at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies. in Seoul.

Recent military drills and tests by the North, while threatening, also expose the limits of Pyongyang’s forces, he said. The fighter jets were “outdated” and suggest the provocations are “signs of desperation,” she added.

North Korea says it sees recent military exercises by the United States, South Korea and Japan as a threat. Allies say the training exercises are defensive in nature. South Korea’s presidential office on Friday called an emergency meeting of its National Security Council and pledged to work with allies to prepare for more provocations from the North.

Tensions continue to rise as nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington remain deadlocked. North Korea has carried out more than 40 missile launches this year, and this week Kim oversaw a cruise missile test and vowed to strengthen the regime’s nuclear weapons program to ward off enemies. The North Korean leader said his nuclear forces were fully prepared for a “real war,” according to state media.

On Friday, South Korea also imposed unilateral sanctions against North Korea for the first time in about five years. The measures target 15 North Korean individuals and 16 organizations involved in nuclear and missile development, according to the South’s Foreign Ministry.

The short-range ballistic missile North Korea launched on Friday was fired at around 1:49 am into the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to the South Korean military. The missile flew about 435 miles and reached an altitude of about 31 miles, the JCS said.

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