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Warning shots fired as reunions continue

Updated: 2015-10-26 07:58
By Agencies in Seoul (China Daily)

The Republic of Korea fired warning shots on Saturday at a patrol boat from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported on Sunday, citing military officials.

The incident happened at about 3:30 pm local time on Saturday, as a reunion continued for families separated by the Korean War (1950-53), a sign of a thaw in inter-Korean relations.

The DPRK ship violated the northern limit line, which Pyongyang has never accepted as a sea boundary because it was drawn by US-led forces after an armistice.

 Warning shots fired as reunions continue

Jung Kun-mok (left), from the Republic of Korea, meets his mother, Lee Bok-sun, from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, during family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort, DPRK, on Saturday. Yonhap Via Reuters

While clamping down on fishing boats, the DPRK military ship sailed south several hundred miles away from the NLL, according to the South Korean military authorities.

Seoul's navy vessels fired five warning shots with a 40-mm machine gun at the DPRK boat.

The DPRK ship returned across the line soon afterward without firing back, ROK Defense Ministry added.

There was no more action between the two sides, a military official was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

A spokesman for the DPRK's Committee for Peaceful Unification of Korea said on Sunday that the South Korean military provoked the DPRK ship on a "normal mission" of maritime operations.

The spokesman's remarks, carried by the DPRK's KCNA news agency, denounced the warning shots as "intentional provocative acts" to reignite tensions on the Korean Peninsula with military clashes in the West Sea waters.

The maritime skirmish came amid the ongoing family reunion event, which was agreed between the two Koreas in late August after top-level military talks to defuse tensions that had pushed the peninsula to the brink of armed conflict.

A total of 254 elderly from the ROK from 90 families crossed the inter-Korean border into the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang on Saturday to meet their long-lost relatives from the other side.

Coming from the DPRK to take part in the highly charged event were 188 people.

On the second day of the three-day reunion, the separated families held the first private face-to-face meeting in the morning, for the first time since the Korean conflict abated with an armistice. Since the war, no direct exchange of letters or telephone calls have been allowed between people on the two sides.

Xinhua - AFP

(China Daily 10/26/2015 page11)

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