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N. Korea flexing muscles at border: source

All Headlines 15:39 August 19, 2015

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military is ratcheting up its combat readiness posture along the border with front-line fortifications such as opening up its weapons portholes and intensifying artillery firing drills, a military source said Wednesday.

"The North Korean military is now being frequently observed opening up the portholes in their guard posts along the military demarcation line in the demilitarized zone, which faces the South," the military source said on the condition of anonymity.

The militaries of both Koreas keep their artilleries ready to fire at each other as they are technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a ceasefire. The militaries continue to open and close the weapons portholes at the border fortifications in accordance with levels of tension.

He said the military is also escalating the frequency and intensity of its artillery firing drills near the front line. "The North Korean army is performing its exercises more frequently, including one that aims to speed up artillery operations."

The signs of the North's muscle-flexing began as both Koreas recently engaged in loudspeaker propaganda warfare across the border.

In retaliation for the explosion of land mines on the South Korean side of the DMZ earlier this month, which was blamed on North Korea, the South launched last week its border broadcasting of propaganda messages targeting North Korean soldiers and border residents.

North Korea resumed its propaganda broadcasting operations at the border in return, setting off the inter-Korean psychological warfare, which had ended in 2004 under a mutual agreement.

Last weekend, North Korea threatened to launch "indiscriminate attacks" on South Korea's loudspeakers if the broadcasting is not stopped.

Responding to the North Korean movement, another military official said, "We are ready to fight back against whatever provocations the North Korean military attempts." South Korea is keeping close tabs on the activities of the North Korean military, the official added.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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