The Latest on Koreas: S. Korean leader visits border base
SEOUL, South Korea, Aug 21 (AP) — The latest on the tensions on the Korean Peninsula (all times local):
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has visited an army headquarters responsible for the western portion of the border, and is warning she won't tolerate any provocation by North Korea.
Park on Friday also ordered the military to respond immediately should North Korea launch fresh provocation, according to a statement from her office.
Yonhap news agency is reporting that South Korean Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo told lawmakers that the most likely new North Korean targets would be 11 sites where South Korea operates loudspeakers broadcasting anti-Pyongyang messages.
South Korea's Defense Ministry says it cannot immediately confirm the report.
Defense officials also say South Korean troops fired 29 rounds on Thursday. The North's official Korean Central News Agency reported that South Korea fired 36 rounds.
5: 15 p.m.
Around 100 anti-North Korea activists have gathered in Seoul to protest North Korea's cross-border artillery shelling.
The protesters on Friday burned posters with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's photos and a North Korean flag.
Protester Park Chan-sung says: "We urge U.N. and the international community to strongly punish and deal with North Korean dictatorship with strong anti-North sanctions and to push the North to renounce nuclear development and weapons."
The tensions have escalated since South Korea accused the rival North of shelling a border town on Thursday and retaliated with dozens of artillery rounds. North Korea has threatened further action unless Seoul ends loudspeaker broadcasts of anti-Pyongyang propaganda at the border.
South Korea has ordered its military on top alert and vowed to sternly deal with any North Korean provocations.
The Ministry of National Defense says: "South Korea will strongly retaliate against any kind of North Korean attacks and the North will have to take all the responsibility for such ... actions."
The ministry quoting a message sent to the North on Friday.
As residents in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, go about their business as usual Friday morning, propaganda vans with loudspeakers have been mobilized to broadcast the news that their country is in a "semi-state of war."
Large crowds have gathered outside Pyongyang's main train station to watch a giant screen showing the news.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday declared his troops in a "quasi-state of war" and ordered them to prepare for battle a day after the most serious confrontation between the rivals in years.
The North has engaged in a similar warlike rhetoric in recent years, including repeated threats to reduce Seoul to a "sea of fire."
But the latest tensions raise worries because South Korea has vowed to hit back with overwhelming strength should North Korea attack again as it did on Thursday.
North Korea has denied firing at South Korea's border town, a claim Seoul dismisses as nonsense.
— Eric Talmadge, Pyongyang
South Korea says it has tried to send a message urging North Korea to apologize for its recent artillery fire provocation and to punish those responsible.
But, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry on Friday, North Korean refused to receive the South Korean message.
The latest tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula erupted on Thursday when South Korea accused the rival North of firing artillery rounds on a border town and threatening more action unless Seoul ends loudspeaker broadcasts of anti-Pyongyang propaganda. They have been activated recently for the first time in 11 years.
South Korea retaliated by firing dozens of its own rounds across the border. There were no reports of casualties.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified government source, is reporting that South Korean and U.S. surveillance assets detected the movement of vehicles in North Korea carrying short-range Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles in a possible preparation for launches.
South Korea's Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the report.
It comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday declared his front-line troops in a "quasi-state of war," a day after South Korea fired dozens of artillery rounds across the border.
It was in response to what Seoul said were North Korean artillery strikes meant to back up a threat to attack loudspeakers broadcasting anti-Pyongyang propaganda.