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Both Koreas violated armistice agreement: UN Command

South Korean guard post (Yonhap)
South Korean guard post (Yonhap)

Both Koreas breached their armistice agreement when they exchanged gunfire at the border on May 3, the United National Command said Tuesday.

It also said it could not “definitely” determine whether North Korea opened fire on a South Korean guard post intentionally or by mistake.

The UN Command, which administers the demilitarized zone separating both Koreas and enforces the armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean War, came to that conclusion after a weeklong investigation by its multinational team.

Seoul expressed regret over the conclusion, saying its troops had retaliated in accordance with the contingency manual.

“We reaffirm that our response to the North’s firings were without any fault and in accordance with our guidelines drawn out for such incidents,” the Defense Ministry said.

On May 3, North Korea fired four shots from small firearms toward a South Korean guard post inside the DMZ. The South’s troops returned fire with two shots.

The Defense Ministry concluded the incident was highly likely to be accidental.

The UNC team noted it had received full cooperation from Seoul while none came from Pyongyang, though the communist country did acknowledge the receipt of the request from the command.

The gunfire exchange highlighted the latest confrontation between the two Koreas amid frosty inter-Korean relations, with some military experts disputing South Korea’s conclusion that the North mistakenly fired the shots.

The attack sparked speculation over Pyongyang’s intentions because it came two days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un resurfaced in public, ending an almost three-week absence from public life. North Korea has not spoken on the matter.

The UNC said it will engage in discussion with both Koreas and encourage them to prevent any recurrence.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)

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