South Korea reports firing warning shots at the North Korean patrol boat, claiming it had crossed the disputed western sea boundary while chasing an unarmed North Korean vessel.
Seoul’s Defence Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that the North Korean patrol boat, while pursuing a vessel, had crossed the so-called Northern Limit Line on Tuesday morning. However, it withdrew after receiving warning shots from a South Korean naval ship.
The South Korean military seized the North Korean vessel. All seven crew members were questioned.
The two nations have witnessed some deadly clashes over the years, and the South Korean military has often fired alarm shots at the countries’ poorly marked sea borders to repel the North Korean boats. In addition, South Korea blames North Korea for an attack on a South Korean warship in 2010, claiming the lives of 46 crewmembers. However, North Korea has denied any such responsibility.
The UN had drawn up the Northern Limit Line after the 1950-53 Korean war; South Korea has patrolled waters around the line since then. North Korea, however, does not recognize the boundary.
Tensions have soared among the two nations due to North Korea’s accelerating missile tests, including a launch on Saturday that the North said was to test technologies for a spy satellite.
The news came a day before the South Korean presential elections. There have been significant clashes between the candidates over the continuing engagement with rival North Korea or to take bold actions against its nuclear threat.