North Korea fires missile near South Korean waters, Seoul hits back

by Josh Smith and Soo-hyang Choi

SEOUL, Nov 2 (Reuters) – A North Korean ballistic missile landed less than 60 kilometers from the South Korean coast on Wednesday, a first in a test launch led by Pyongyang, prompting South Korea to South to set off air-raid sirens and in turn fire missiles in protest.

The North Korean missile landed outside South Korean territorial waters, but south of the Northern Limit Line (LLN), a disputed maritime border between the two Koreas. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol denounced “an act of territorial invasion”.

South Korean fighter jets fired three air-to-surface missiles into the sea north of the LLN in response, the South Korean military said.

An official said that American-made AGM-84H / K SLAM-ER precision missiles, capable of carrying a load of 360 kilos at a distance of 270 kilometers, had been used in particular.

The South Korean return fire came shortly after a warning from the presidential services announcing a “swift and firm response” so that North Korea “pays the price for its provocation”.

The North Korean firings came after Pyongyang called for a halt to joint military maneuvers between South Korea and the United States, described as a provocation.

Despite the week of national mourning declared in South Korea after the deadly stampede in Seoul this weekend, which left 156 dead, Washington and Seoul on Monday began large-scale military exercises dubbed “Vigilant Storm” and involving hundreds of fighter planes.

The North Korean missile that crossed the Northern Limit Line was part of a group of three short-range ballistic missiles fired at sea from the Wonsan coastal area, the South Korean military said. In total, North Korea fired around 10 missiles of several types from its east and west coasts, he added.

At least one of them landed 26 km south of LLN, 57 km from the South Korean city of Sokcho on the east coast, and 167 km from Ulleung Island, where warning sirens sounded.

“We heard the siren around 8:55 a.m. and everyone in the building went down to the evacuation point in the basement,” an Ulleung county official told Reuters.

“We stayed until about 9.15 a.m. before going back up, after learning that the projectile had fallen on the high seas.”

North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year and, according to Seoul and Washington, completed preparations for a new nuclear test, which would be the first since 2017. (Report Soo-hyang Choi, Choonsik Yoo and Josh Smith; French version Jean-Stéphane Brosse, edited by Kate Entringer)

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