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South Korea fires warning shots after North Korean troops briefly cross border

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File photo: Joint Security Area (Credit: Driedprawns)

South Korea fired warning shots over the weekend when dozens of North Korean soldiers crossed the border line in the DMZ, the South reported on Tuesday. The group immediately went back to the North and officials said it was likely an accident.

The violation happened on Sunday afternoon when a group of North Korean soldiers was working in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a heavily-guarded strip of land which separates the two Koreas with the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) in the middle.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told Yonhap on Tuesday that 20 to 30 North Korean soldiers had crossed the MDL within a short period of time. Many were carrying work tools such as pickaxes and some of them were armed.

The group was being monitored by South Korean soldiers who activated loudspeaker warnings and fired warning shots when the border was violated, which immediately prompted the North Koreans to move back.

Although North Korea has yet to explain the incident, an official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff speculated that the North Korean soldiers may have gotten lost and violated the border by accident.

“The DMZ is currently overgrown with bushes and the MDL markings are hard to see,” a Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman told Yonhap. “Considering that the troops immediately moved north after the warning messages and warning shots, we believe there was no intention to invade.”

It was not immediately known why it took two days to report the incident, which happened amidst rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has launched more than 1,600 trash and waste-carrying balloons into the South since late May, responding to anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent by South Korean activists. On Monday, South Korea activated loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts for the first time in 6 years.

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