N. Korea Says It Is in 'Quasi-State of War'
Pyongyang orders troops to be ready for battle by tonight
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2015 4:58 AM CDT
Updated Aug 21, 2015 6:38 AM CDT
South Korean army soldiers stand guard at Unification Bridge near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, today.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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(Newser) – More tough talk from North Korea: The country says its troops are now in a "quasi-state of war" and they've been ordered to be battle-ready by this evening, reports the AP, which notes that a "quasi-state of war" has existed along the Korean border for decades. The warning from Pyongyang follows an exchange of fire yesterday in which the South fired dozens of shells over the border in response to a rocket attack from the North, which apparently targeted loudspeakers being used to broadcast anti-Pyongyang propaganda. South Korea's military is at its highest alert level and Seoul has promised a "stern response" to any more attacks from the North, the Guardian reports.

This is the biggest flare-up between the Koreas in years, and while events, including dire threats from the North, have so far followed a familiar pattern, Seoul is now operating under new rules of engagement that allow a more forceful response to attacks from Pyongyang, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Both sides are playing with fire in this crisis," a North Korea expert at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies tells the Journal. An analyst at IHS Country Risk tells CNN that yesterday's events were unusual because they involved artillery instead of the small arms usually involved in cross-DMZ confrontations on land. (Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Kim Jong Un executed the country's vice premier because of a disagreement on forestry policy.)