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Seoul fires warning photographs as North Korean troopers cross border once more

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This undated handout photograph supplied on June 18, 2024 by the South Korean Defence Ministry reveals North Korean troopers working at an undisclosed location close to the closely fortified border, as seen from a South Korean guard space.
| Photo Credit: AFP/SOUTH KOREAN DEFENCE MINISTRY

Dozens of North Korean troopers briefly crossed the closely fortified border on June 18 however retreated after warning photographs have been fired, Seoul stated, the second such incident in two weeks as Pyongyang reinforces its frontiers with the South.

Landmine explosions close to the border additionally injured a number of North Korean troopers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated, including that Pyongyang had lately deployed troops within the space to clear scrub and lay mines, as relations between the 2 Koreas plummet.

The international locations technically stay at conflict because the 1950-1953 battle resulted in an armistice, and the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula is already one of the crucial closely mined locations on earth.

But North Korea is transferring to bolster that, laying extra landmines, reinforcing tactical roads and including what seem like anti-tank limitations, Seoul’s army stated.

The JCS stated it believed the Tuesday crossing — like a earlier one on June 9 — was unintentional, with some 20 to 30 North Korean troopers carrying work instruments concerned within the incident, which happened round 8:30 am Tuesday (2330 GMT).

“Dozens of North Korean troops crossed the Military Demarcation Line today… (and) retreated northwards after warning shots” have been fired, a JCS official stated.

North Korean troopers tasked with reinforcing the border had suffered “multiple casualties from repeated landmine explosion incidents” however they “appear to be recklessly pressing ahead with the operations,” the official stated.

“North Korea’s activities seem to be a measure to strengthen internal control, such as blocking North Korean troops and North Koreans from defecting to the South,” the JCS official stated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is about to go to Pyongyang later Tuesday, sparking concern in Seoul, which has accused the North of delivery arms to Moscow to be used in Ukraine in trade for assist with its nascent satellite tv for pc program.

‘No reconciliation’

“This has rather symbolic significance,” Koh Yu-hwan, North Korean research emeritus professor at Dongguk University informed AFP, saying including new mines was making it clear Pyongyang didn’t need dialogue with the South.

“By laying mines, North Korea is demonstrating once again that, as per the instructions of the supreme leader (Kim Jong Un), there will be no reconciliation with the South,” he added.

“North Korea is not laying mines across the entire frontline, but rather in areas that are easily observable by the South. They are also blocking roads and railways that were previously areas of inter-Korean cooperation.”

During a interval of hotter ties in 2018, the 2 Koreas eliminated landmines alongside a piece of the closely fortified border in a bid to ease army tensions.

Earlier this month, round 20 North Korean troopers crossed the army demarcation line between the 2 international locations in a piece of the border “overgrown with trees”, in keeping with Seoul’s army, which assessed the incursion to be unintentional.

That crossing got here as North Korea was sending greater than a thousand balloons laden with trash southward — a response, it stated, to balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang propaganda despatched north by activists.

The South Korean authorities in flip suspended a 2018 tension-reducing army deal and restarted loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts alongside the border, infuriating the North, which warned Seoul was creating “a new crisis”.

Ahn Chan-il, a defector-turned-researcher who runs the World Institute for North Korea Studies, informed AFP that the North Korean army was attempting to survey the border space to put in extra limitations.

“Engineering and observation units have increased their presence in the area. It is believed that the disorderly actions of those who are unfamiliar with the minefields have led to these mine-related accidents.”

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