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North Korea opens fire toward South Korea Empty
PostSubject: North Korea opens fire toward South Korea   North Korea opens fire toward South Korea EmptySat Oct 30, 2010 6:48 am

By Lee Tae-hoon

North Korean troops fired two rounds at a military guard post near the border at around 5:30 p.m. Friday, prompting South Korean soldiers to immediately return fire, according to an official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

"Two shots were fired from a North Korean military guard post, and we immediately returned fire with three shots under the rules of engagement," the official said, adding that no one was hit by the North Korean gunfire.

Though the official was unable to confirm whether the North Korean military action was deliberate, he said that the United Nations Command (UNC) will send a special investigation team to find out whether the North had violated terms of the armistice.

Exchanges of fire break out occasionally near the heavily fortified border that divides the Korean Peninsula, but the latest shooting in Hwacheon, some 100 kilometers northeast of Seoul, comes at a sensitive time.

Friday’s shooting came only a day before families from the two Koreas were scheduled to have reunions in North Korea and two weeks ahead of Seoul’s hosting of the G20 summit, where leaders of the world’s 20 major economies will gather to coordinate macroeconomic policies.

The last such incident is known to have taken place in 2007.

Sources say South Korean military officials are looking at possible links between the shooting and the North’s threat of “merciless physical retaliation,” which came only hours earlier before, after Seoul's refusal to hold inter-Korean military talks.

In a typically strong-worded statement, Pyongyang labeled the South Korean rejection “an act of treachery” through its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The South Korean puppet military authorities will have to realize what a catastrophic impact their objection to the dialogue will have on the inter-Korean relations," the statement read.

The proposed talks did not take place as the two Koreas remain at odds over the sinking of a South Korean frigate in March, which took the lives of 46 sailors.

A Seoul-led multinational investigation team concluded in May that the warship was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine near the disputed maritime border, but Pyongyang has been flatly denying the claim.

Despite Friday's exchange of fire, the Ministry of Unification said the family reunion will proceed as scheduled.

"All preparations are going smoothly," a ministry official said.
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