Published On: Fri, Aug 21st, 2015

Tension grips the North and South Korean border

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A sense of unrest gripped the border region of North and South Korea as the two neighboring countries put their troops on standy byafter exchanging rocket and artillery fire in the first major armed clash across their border in five years.

North and South Korea appeared headed towards another clash, as Seoul refused an ultimatum that it halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts by Saturday afternoon or face military action, and North Korea said its troops were on a war footing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered all front-line units to go on a “semi-war state,” one of his country’s highest military alerts, from 5 p.m. Friday during an emergency meeting of his Central Military Commission, the north’s official Korean Central News Agency said on Friday.

South Korean Vice Defence Minister Baek Seung-joo said on Friday it was likely the North would fire at some of the 11 sites where the loudspeakers are set up on the South’s side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the countries.

No casualties were immediately reported from the exchange of fire that took place across one of the world’s most heavily armed borders on Thursday.

The nuclear-armed North has condemned South Korean propaganda being blasted from the speakers as equivalent to a declaration of war. It was this that triggered Thursday’s exchange of fire across the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, and Kim’s latest ultimatum — stop the broadcasts by 5 p.m. Saturday (4:30 a.m. ET) or face military action.

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