Seoul November 4, 2011 South Korea shot down warplanes near the countries’ shared border in response to 180 North Korean military flights, while Pyongyang again called on the US and South Korea to end “provocative” air drills.
North Korea’s activity comes after it fired more than 80 missiles overnight and launched several missiles into the sea on Thursday, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korean aircraft have been spotted in several areas north of the “Tactical Action Line” north of the demarcation line between the two Koreas, South Korea’s military commanders said in a statement.
Their flight was between 11 a.m. (0200 GMT) and 3 p.m. The virtual line is drawn north of the military border and serves as a base for South Korean air defense operations, a South Korean official said.
The virtual line declined to give its distance from the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), but local news reports said it was 20 to 50 km (12 to 31 miles).
In response, South Korea shot down 80 aircraft, including F-35A stealth fighters, and about 240 jets continued to conduct exercises with the United States in the Viginent Typhoon air exercise, the military said.
North Korea fired at least 23 missiles on Wednesday – a record for a single day.
The series of tests launched this week prompted the United States and South Korea to extend a precautionary wave of military exercises, angering Pyongyang.
North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the United States should stop its “provocative” air drills, warning that “further provocation is bound to be followed by continued countermeasures.”
The Pentagon announced Friday that the drills with South Korea are being extended only through Nov. 5.
“We will continue to closely monitor the security situation on the Korean Peninsula with our ROK ally,” a US military spokesman told Reuters.
Earlier, Park Jong-chon, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said that by extending the drills, Washington and Seoul had made a very dangerous decision and were making the situation out of control.
The United States has called a public meeting of the United Nations Security Council later on Friday to discuss North Korea, which has been banned from launching ballistic missiles by a United Nations resolution.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry statement, citing the UN meeting, said North Korea had been taking “legitimate self-defense” rehabilitation measures.
A flight of 10 North Korean warplanes carried out similar maneuvers last month, prompting South Korea to shoot down jets.
The heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula are fueled by fears that North Korea may resume its first nuclear test since 2017.
The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries said in a joint statement on Friday that any nuclear test or other reckless action by North Korea must be met with a swift, united and strong international response.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup met in Washington on Thursday and pledged to seek new measures to show the alliance’s “commitment and capability” in the face of North Korea’s repeated provocations.
A senior US administration official said on Thursday that although the United States has indicated that North Korea is ready to resume nuclear tests starting in May, it is unclear when it might conduct such a test.
The United States believes that China and Russia have the ability to persuade North Korea not to resume nuclear tests, the official told Reuters.
How the UN Security Council deals with North Korea has changed in recent years, and in May China and Russia imposed additional sanctions on the United States-led UN body in response to North Korea’s missile launch.
Reporting by Josh Smith in Seoul; Additional reporting by David Brunstrom and Chris Gallagher in Washington; Editing by Jack Kim, Gerry Doyle and Alistair Bell
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