North Korea orders artillery shells into sea following South Korea drills

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North Korea orders artillery shells into sea following South Korea drills

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has ordered military units to fire more artillery shells into the sea, according to the North s official KCNA news agency, in response to South Korea's ongoing drills across the border.

The firing came a day after North Korea fired more than 130 shells into the sea off its east and west coasts, some of which were landed in a buffer zone near the sea border between the two Koreas. A violation of a 2018 inter-Korean agreement to reduce tensions was called by Seoul.

South Korea and U.S. troops have been conducting live-fire drills near the border since Monday. The drills are necessary to deter nuclear-armed North Korea, which tested a record number of missiles this year, and has made preparations to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.

Pyongyang has criticized the joint exercises as provocative and proof of the hostile policies of Seoul and Washington.

The enemy must immediately cease military actions in the zone near the front lines, a spokesman for the North Korean army said.

In addition to the artillery fire, the North Korean army issued a combat emergency alert to units at all levels, and troops were ordered to step up surveillance, the spokesperson said.