N Korea fires artillery towards South again

Rounds landed on the North’s side of the disputed maritime border off the west coast of the rival states, a Defence Ministry official said. The South did not return fire.

Some analysts said the North may be trying to provoke tension with US military ally South Korea to drive home its demand for talks with Washington to reach a peace treaty to replace the armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

The two Koreas remain technically at war and share one of the world’s most militarised borders. North Korea has declared a no-sail zone in the Yellow Sea waters for two months ending in late March, a sign it might be preparing to fire artillery or test launch missiles.
“They were firing at their side of the border and unlike Wednesday we did not have clear visual confirmation,” the defence official said.

The mercurial North, which has made war threats against the South in recent weeks, has also agreed to Seoul’s calls for dialogue on the operations of a joint industrial park that provides the socialist state with hard cash.

Separately on Thursday, the North said it had captured an American who was trespassing in its northern region that borders China. In the past Pyongyang has used foreign detainees as bargaining chips.

It already holds another American, activist Robert Park, who was caught at the border last month. He said beforehand he was crossing to raise awareness about the North’s human rights abuses.

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