08/01/2006, 00.00
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Crossfire on border between Koreas

The incident took place yesterday and was started by troops loyal to Pyongyang. The United Nations will ask for an explanation but North Korea is giving nothing away.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korean soldiers stationed on the border with the north exchanged gunfire with troops on the other side but no one was hurt, a South Korean military official said. The incident occurred about 6.35pm when North Korean soldiers fired two shots toward a South Korean guard post in the eastern part of the Demilitarised Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.

The soldiers of Seoul immediately fired back six rounds, said Major Kim Tae-hoon of the Joint Chiefs of Staff office. The motive for the shots was unclear, and the Communist country made no comment about them, Kim said.

The UN Military Armistice Commission, which supervises the cease-fire that ended the 1953 Korean War, has decided to ask Pyongyang for an explanation.

The 1950-53 civil war on the peninsula ended in a cease-fire, but it was never officially over: the two nations accepted to lay down their arms but they never signed a peace treaty. So technically, Seoul and Pyongyang are still at war.

The last time such an incident took place between the two countries was in October 2005, when North Korean soldiers fired a bullet toward South Korean soldiers who fired back.

The latest incident comes in the thick of a clash between North Korean and the international community, which – as a result of the test missile launches by Pyongyang on 4 July – approved a resolution that bans any links in the technological sector between member states and the Stalinist regime.

Last September, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program in return for international guarantees and humanitarian aid, but no progress has been made to implement its decision.

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