S. Korea orders civilian evacuation near western border, after exchanging fire with N. Korea

South Korean military fired dozens of artillery shells across the border on Thursday, the Yonhap news agency reported. The attack came in response to apparent shelling of the southern part of the border area by the North’s military.

“A barrage of supposedly North Korean military shells was detected by (South Korea’s) anti-battery radar” at 3:52pm, a ministry official said as cited by the agency.

Earlier the South Korean Defense Ministry said shelling from across the border was detected by counter-battery radar, but that the South didn’t return fire.

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No casualties or damage on the ground was reported after the alleged shelling from the North. However, South Korea ordered the evacuation of civilians from the border area to the west of the Korean Peninsula, where the incident happened.

According to the KBS broadcaster in South Korea, the North’s shells targeted a military loudspeaker that has been broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda across the border. North Korea has repeatedly demanded the removal of such loudspeakers, calling them provocative.

In the wake of the fire exchange, North Korea reiterated its demands, saying propaganda must cease within 48 hours or military action will ensue, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

Seoul is to hold an emergency session of the National Security Council to discuss the development.

Relations between North and South Korea are tenser than usual at the moment in the wake of a land mine incident this month. Two South Korean troops were hit by a primitive landmine explosion, with Seoul blaming Pyongyang, an accusation the North denied. Mounting propaganda loudspeakers along the borders was the South’s response to the incident.

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