(LEAD) N.K. says it fired artillery shots as 'serious warning' over S. Korea's military drills
(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 2, 6, 7; REWRITES headline, lead)
By Kim Soo-yeon
SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's military said Wednesday it fired artillery shots overnight into maritime buffer zones near the inter-Korean border as a "serious warning" over South Korea's ongoing military drills.
In a statement, a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA) said the North's military launched a "threatening and warning" fire as its "powerful military countermeasure" against South Korea's military exercises.
The spokesperson also called on the South to immediately stop "reckless and inciting provocations" that have raised military tensions on the peninsula, according to the English-language statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
It came hours after the North launched more than 250 artillery shells into waters off its east and west coast. The unnamed KPA official said the move came in response to a series of "military provocative acts by enemies," citing the Hoguk military drills under way in the South.
South Korea kicked off its annual Hoguk field training Monday to hone defense capabilities to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. The drills are to run until Oct. 28.
The North's artillery firing came despite speculation that Pyongyang may refrain from staging military provocations during China's ongoing 20th Congress of the Communist Party.
Last week, North Korea fired hundreds of artillery shots into the maritime buffer zones in the East and Yellow seas that were set under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement on reducing military tensions. South Korea called the North's provocations a clear violation of the 2018 inter-Korean military accord.
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