South Korea tells residents to evacuate from border area amid skirmishes with North

In wake of increasing tension with North Korea and resultant artillery shelling, South Korea on Thursday instructed its citizens living near the border region to evacuate, reports say.

Last Updated: Aug 20, 2015, 17:18 PM IST
South Korea tells residents to evacuate from border area amid skirmishes with North

Seoul: In wake of increasing tension with North Korea and resultant artillery shelling, South Korea on Thursday instructed its citizens living near the border region to evacuate, reports say.

The border standoff between the two neighbours intensified today when South reacted to a rocket fired from North, responding with several rounds of artillery shell.

According to a statement by South's defence ministry, North Korea has warned that it will take military action if South Korea does not stop its anti-Pyongyang propaganda campaign being delivered  from loudspeakers at the border.

The ministry added that its artillery shells landed at the site where North Korea had fired its rocket. There were no other details from the military and no reports of injuries.

The warning message issued by the North came almost one hour after it fired the shell over the western part of the border, according to the Ministry of National Defense, reported the Yonhap news agency.

Authoritarian North Korea, which has also restarted its own propaganda broadcasts, is extremely sensitive to any criticism of the government run by leader Kim Jong Un, whose family has ruled since the North was founded in 1948. Pyongyang worries that the broadcasts could weaken Kim's grip on absolute power, analysts say.

The artillery exchange also comes during another point of tensions between the Koreas: annual U.S.-South Korean military drills that North Korea calls an invasion rehearsal. Seoul and Washington say the drills are defensive in nature.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye convened an emergency National Security Council meeting and ordered South Korea's military to "resolutely" deal with any provocation by North Korea.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that a total of about 2,000 residents along the border were evacuated.

Pyongyang has claimed that Seoul fabricated its evidence on the land mines and demanded video proof.

With Agency Inputs