North Korea fired more than 10 missiles Wednesday, including one that landed close to South Korea’s waters in what President Yoon Suk-yeol said was “effectively a territorial invasion”.
It also fired an artillery barrage into a maritime “buffer zone”, in what experts said was part of an “aggressive and threatening” response by Pyongyang to the large-scale joint air drills the United States and South Korea are currently conducting.
One short-range ballistic missile crossed the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border between the two countries, prompting a rare warning for residents on the island of Ulleungdo to seek shelter in bunkers.
The military said it was the “first time since the peninsula was divided” at the end of Korean War hostilities in 1953 that a North Korean missile had landed so close to the South’s territorial waters.
“President Yoon pointed out today that North Korea’s provocation is an effective territorial invasion by a missile that crossed the Northern Limit Line for the first time since the division,” his office said in a statement.
The missile closest to South Korea landed in waters just 57 kilometres (35 miles) east of the mainland, the military said, adding it was a “very rare and intolerable” incident.
Soon after, the South Korean military said it had fired three air-to-ground missiles into the sea towards the north of the two countries’ maritime boundary.
An air raid warning was issued for Ulleungdo after the North Korean missile launch. The alert was flashed on national television and told residents to “evacuate to the nearest underground shelter”.
The South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff initially said it detected the launch of three short-range ballistic missiles.
But it later announced North Korea had fired more than 10 missiles “of various types today towards the east and west”.
President Yoon called a meeting of the National Security Council, ordering “swift and stern measures so that North Korea’s provocations pay a clear price”.
South Korea closed some air routes over the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, advising local airlines to detour to “ensure passenger safety in the routes to the United States and Japan”.
– Vigilant Storm –
Pyongyang’s latest test-firing came as Seoul and Washington staged their largest-ever joint air drills, dubbed “Vigilant Storm”, which involve hundreds of warplanes from both sides.
Pak Jong Chon, a high-ranking North Korean official, said the drills were aggressive and provocative, according to a report in state media Wednesday.
Pak said the name of the exercises harked back to Operation Desert Storm, the US-led military assault on Iraq in 1990-1991 after it invaded Kuwait.
“If the US and South Korea attempt to use armed forces against the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) without any fear, the special means of the DPRK’s armed forces will carry out their strategic mission without delay,” he said.
“The US and South Korea will have to … pay the most horrible price in history.”
North Korea’s missile launches on Wednesday appeared to be “the most aggressive and threatening armed demonstration against the South since 2010,” Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told AFP.
“It is now a dangerous and unstable situation that could lead to armed conflict,” he added.
In March 2010, a North Korean submarine torpedoed the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, killing 46 sailors, including 16 who were on their mandatory military service.
In November of the same year, the North shelled a South Korean border island, killing two marines — both of them young conscripts.
Wednesday’s missile tests follow a recent blitz of launches, including what the North said were tactical nuclear drills.
Washington and Seoul have repeatedly warned the launches could culminate in another nuclear test — which would be Pyongyang’s seventh.
“Pyongyang seems to have completed its most powerful deterrent. This is a serious threat,” Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University, told AFP.
“The North also seems confident in their nuclear capabilities,” Park added.
The North’s latest launches came with South Korea in a period of national mourning after more than 150 people — mostly young women in their 20s — were killed in a crowd crush in Seoul on Saturday.
It shows “North Korea’s clear priorities,” Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.
“Pyongyang probably thinks it has no reason to take the Itaewon tragedy into its consideration, as Seoul and Washington’s largest-ever joint air drills are also happening anyway,” he added.
Trump to supporters: Let’s take back America *Launches fresh bid for White House
“We have to save our country,” were the words with which former US President, Donald Trump, used to launch his intention to return to the White House, which he vacated last year after being defeated in an election, he is yet to accept that he lost, even after going the whole hog including the highest courts to test its validity.
Incumbent, Joe Biden, was sworn in on January 20, 2021, after defeating Trump, America’s 45th President, after a heated election, which the former President on the platform of the Republican Party, challenged as fraught with irregularities, but which complaints were all thrown out by the courts, including the Supreme Court.
But the former President, has remained resolute in pursuing a come-back option, including sponsoring candidates for his party in the mid-term US elections, a move, which seems to have fallen flat on its face, with many of them failing to win at their various stages.
The expectation had been that with the failure, Trump would have considered it a rejection by the American people, and dump the idea, as many believe that the move was actually a referendum on his acceptance generally.
But, in what is being interpreted as a preemptive move to block other candidates from taking a shot at the number one US job, Trump made his announcement, on the heels of the Republicans losing the Senate majority, while maintaining a slim dominance at the House of Representatives.
BBC quotes Trump, who is being blamed by some of his party men for the dismal performance at the polls, as making the announcement at his Florida estate, while adding that Biden, who defeated Trump two years ago, is eyeing a re-election in 2024.
Speaking to an invited crowd from the ballroom of his Mar-a-Lago private club in Palm Beach on Tuesday night, Trump, 76, reportedly said: “We are a nation in decline. For millions of Americans, the past two years under Joe Biden have been a time of pain, hardship, anxiety and despair. In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.”
Shortly before the speech, he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission formally declaring his presidential candidacy and setting up a fundraising account.
Meanwhile, outside Mar-a-Lago, supporters gathered to wave Trump 2024 flags.
Mr Trump’s speech lasted for more than an hour and touched on many of the same themes he has been repeating on stage for months.
These included border security, energy independence and crime, as well as attacks on Mr Biden’s record in office.
His wife, Melania Trump, joined him on stage at the end of the speech. But there were fewer family members present than at some of his past events and Ivanka Trump and Donald Jr did not attend.
Nearly 11,000 miles (17,700km) away at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, Mr Biden was asked whether he had a reaction to Mr Trump’s announcement.
“No, not really,” the Democratic president said. Last week, he was filmed laughing when a reporter suggested Mr Trump’s support base remained strong.
Dead US congressman re-elected in mid-term election
An intriguing dimension has been added to the US mid-term election, with the emergence of Democrat Tony DeLuca, a Pennsylvania state representative in the United States who died last month, as winner, at the end of balloting.
Fox News quoted the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying that DeLuca, who died October 9, 2022, at the age of 85, after a brief battle with lymphoma, a disease he twice previously beat, as Pennsylvania’s longest-serving state representative.
In a tweet, Pennsylvania House Democrats said: “While we’re incredibly saddened by the loss of Representative Tony DeLuca, we are proud to see the voters continue to show their confidence in him and his commitment to Democratic values by re-electing him posthumously. A special election will follow soon.”
Some observers speculate that many voters chose DeLuca knowing he was dead in order to force a special election rather than vote for his third-party opponent, according to local reporter Charlie Wolfson.
DeLuca’s opponent, Queonia Livingston, reportedly ran on a decidedly left-wing platform, putting her three main priorities on her website as environmental justice, ending the war on drugs and reducing gun violence.
DeLuca, 85 per cent of the votes in Wednesday’s midterm election, despite his death, making it too late to pick a different Democrat candidate, or to reprint updated ballots, apparently the reason for the development.
About eight US politicians of Nigerian descent were elected in the ongoing midterm elections in America.
BREAKING: Queen Elizabeth 11 dies at 96 after 70 years on the throne
Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, has died at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.
Her family gathered at her Scottish estate after concerns grew about her health earlier on Thursday.
The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change.
With her death, her eldest son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, will lead the country in mourning as the new King and head of state for 14 Commonwealth realms.
In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.
“The King and the Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
All the Queen’s children travelled to Balmoral, near Aberdeen, after doctors placed the Queen under medical supervision.
Her grandson, Prince William, is also there, with his brother, Prince Harry, on his way.
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