North Korea says danger of `catastrophic` clash at truce village

North Korea today warned that recent "provocative" activities by US troops at a truce village on the heavily fortified inter-Korean border could lead to a "catastrophic" military clash.

PTI| Last Updated: May 27, 2014, 13:23 PM IST

Seoul: North Korea today warned that recent "provocative" activities by US troops at a truce village on the heavily fortified inter-Korean border could lead to a "catastrophic" military clash.

The warning came from the head of the North Korean forces stationed in the frontier village of Panmunjom -- where the ceasefire agreement to end fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War was signed.

Panmunjom has hosted multiple inter-Korean talks over the decades and is heavily guarded, with mostly South Korean and US troops on the southern side under the auspices of the UN Command (UNC).

The North Korean military official, who was not named, said recent activities by US troops threatened to destabilise the sensitive area.

In remarks carried by the North`s official KCNA news agency, he particularly cited the construction of a steel watchtower, saying it was being used for "acts of spying" involving sophisticated surveillance equipment.

Given the military sensitivity of Panmunjom, where North and South Korean border guards stand almost eyeball-to-eyeball, the official said such activity was particularly dangerous.

"The slightest accidental mistake or undesirable behaviour could lead to a catastrophic military clash," he said.

North Korea regularly denounces the US troop presence in the South, but it is unusual for it to focus on activities in Panmunjom -- one of the few avenues of cross-border communication.

A UNC spokesman dismissed the North`s concerns, saying the watchtower had been constructed for "ordinary monitoring purposes".

The North Korean official cited other "sinister" activity by US troops, including messages relayed across the border by loudspeaker and letters with "dishonest contents" that were left in huts straddling the border.

Such actions had multiplied since US President Barack Obama visited South Korea in April, he said.