Warning shots ward off North Korean patrol boat intruding into South waters

AFP-JIJI

The South Korean navy fired warning shots at a North Korean patrol boat that intruded over their disputed maritime border Monday, a day after the North’s launch of a long-range rocket raised tensions.

The defense ministry in Seoul said the North Korean vessel crossed the Yellow Sea border just before 7:00 a.m. (2300 GMT Sunday).

“It quickly retreated after the South Korean navy fired warning shots,” a ministry official said.

The de-facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas — the Northern Limit Line — is not recognised by Pyongyang, which argues it was unilaterally drawn by U.S.-led United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Both sides complain of frequent incursions by the other and there were limited naval clashes in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

Incidents like Monday’s intrusion are quite common and rarely escalate into anything more serious.

However, South Korea is on a high state of alert following Sunday’s rocket launch, which Seoul insists amounted to a disguised ballistic missile test.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has called for heightened vigilance against any further provocation following the launch and North Korea’s fourth nuclear test last month.