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Update: Pyongyang fired artillery shells into waters near border, says South Korea

A news broadcast with file footage of North Korea's artillery firing, at a railway station in Seoul on 5 January 2024. North Korea fired more than 200 artillery shells near two South Korean islands that day, said the South Korean government. (Jung Yeon-je /AFP via Getty Images)

North Korea fired more than 200 artillery shells into waters near the Seoul-controlled Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands early on 5 January, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) spokesperson Colonel Lee Sung-jun disclosed in a statement to reporters on the same day.

All shells fired fell within the buffer zone on the northern side of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) and the barrage of shells was fired between 0900 and 1100 h local time, the spokesperson added. There were no casualties or damages reported from the incident.

The JCS has described the firing as a provocation that heightens tensions and linked it to Pyongyang's decision to withdraw from a September 2018 inter-Korean military agreement that effectively created a military exercise-free buffer zone that straddles both sides of the NLL.

South Korea's military is working with its counterparts from the US to analyse the incident and will be undertaking measures in response to it, the JCS spokesperson added, without giving further details on these.

Citing the JCS, South Korea's official news agency Yonhap reported on 6 and 7 January that the firings were followed by two consecutive days of similar artillery drills.

About 60 shells were fired on 6 January while approximately 90 shells were fired on 7 January. All shells were similarly fired into the buffer zone, the agency added.

North Korea last carried out a similar firing of artillery shells in December 2022.

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