South Korean ships fire warning shots after a North Korean ship breaches the maritime boundary: report

Early on Monday, South Korea and its northern neighbor exchanged warning shots, and both forces are now blaming the other for trespassing on their maritime borders.

The joint chiefs of staff of South Korea reported that its navy fired warning shots to rebuff a North Korean merchant ship that it claims crossed the maritime border. The military of North Korea retaliated by allegedly firing 10 rounds of artillery munitions at South Korea as a warning. It said a South Korean navy vessel had violated North Korean territorial waters.

Although there were no reports of fighting between the two Koreas, the exchange took place as tensions over North Korea’s recent barrage of nuclear tests were at an all-time high.

Long-standing hostilities between the Koreas are a result of the poorly defined sea boundary off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula. It has been the scene of multiple violent and fatal maritime clashes between the two Koreas in recent years, including the two attacks in 2010 that left 50 South Koreans dead.

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North Korea has conducted a number of nuclear tests in recent weeks in reaction to what it views as provocative military exercises between South Korea and the US. North Korea has launched 15 missiles and many artillery shells into the ocean since September 25.

Regular military exercises between Seoul and Washington keep both sides ready for potential North Korean assault. Although the allies claim that their exercises are defensive in character, North Korea sees them as a practice for an invasion.

The annual field training exercises for the South Korean military are scheduled to end this Friday. Unknown numbers of American soldiers are participating in the drills this year.

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