North and South Korean troops exchanged fire along their tense border on Sunday, the South’s military said, the first such incident since the rivals took unprecedented steps to lower front-line animosities. While Sunday’s incident is a reminder of persistent tensions, it didn’t cause any known casualties on either side and is unlikely to escalate, observers say. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said that North Korean troops fired several bullets at a South Korean guard post inside the border zone. South Korea responded with a total of 20 rounds of warning shots on two occasions before issuing a warning broadcast, reports the AP. South Korea suffered no casualties, the military said. Defense officials said it’s unlikely for North Korea to have any casualties either as the South Korean warning shots were fired at uninhabited North Korean territory.
A preliminary South Korean analysis showed that North Korea’s firing wasn’t likely a calculated provocation though Seoul will continue examining whether there was any motivation for the action, a South Korean defense official said. Farming activities around the North Korean area where the firing occurred continued throughout Sunday and North Korea’s military didn’t display any other suspicious activities after the gunfire. The official said there was a thick fog in the area at the time of the incident. Later Sunday, South Korea sent a message to North Korea to try to avoid an escalation, but the North hasn’t immediately replied. The exchange of fire comes a day after North Korea broadcast images of Kim Jong Un reappearing in public after a 20-day absence amid intense speculation about his health. The last time there was gunfire along the Korea border was in November 2017, when North Korean soldiers sprayed bullets at a defecting colleague.
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