North Korea fires 60 rounds of artillery near Yeonpyeong Island

North Korea’s military fired over 60 artillery rounds from the northwest area of Yeonpyeong Island on Saturday afternoon between approximately 16:00 and 17:00 (0700 to 0800 GMT), officials in Seoul said.

This comes just a day after both sides staged live-fire drills in the same area, near their contested maritime border.

Earlier, on Friday, North Korea fired more than 200 rounds of artillery shells near Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong, two sparsely populated islands situated just south of a defacto maritime border between the two sides.

Also, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement the North fired more than 60 rounds near the western sea boundary on Saturday afternoon.

Further, it said South Korea strongly urges North Korea to halt acts that heighten tensions.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said South Korea will take corresponding military steps if North Korea continues artillery drills that pose a threat to South Korean nationals.

It said South Korea will “overwhelmingly” deal with any provocations by North Korea.

On Friday, North Korea fired about 200 artillery shells near the area, prompting South Korea to conduct its own firing drills in response.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said troops on two border islands fired artillery rounds south of the sea boundary.

According to the local media, South Korea fired 400 rounds.

Ahead of the South Korean drills, South Korean authorities asked residents on five major islands near the western sea boundary to evacuate to safe places due to worries that North Korea would fire back.

The evacuation order was lifted a few hours later.

Both Koreas have abandoned a 2018 deal they struck during a brief period of rapprochement.

The agreement called for a halt in live-fire exercises in front-line buffer zone.

But rising animosities over the North’s missile tests and its first military spy satellite launch and other issues have left the military agreement in tatters.

The Koreas’ poorly marked western sea boundary was the site for bloody naval skirmishes between the Koreas in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

The North’s alleged torpedoing of a South Korean warship killed 46 South Korean sailors in March 2010, and the North’s artillery bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island killed four South Koreans in November 2010.