North and South Korea exchange gunfire at border: Seoul

South Korean soldiers patrol along a barbed wire fence Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. (File/Ed Jones/AFP)
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Updated 03 May 2020

North and South Korea exchange gunfire at border: Seoul

  • The rare exchange of gunfire comes following the reappearance a day earlier of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
  • A South Korean guard post was hit by several shots from the North, the joint chiefs of staff (JCS) said in a statement

SEOUL: North Korea fired multiple gunshots toward the South in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula on Sunday, prompting South Korean troops to fire back, Seoul’s military said.
The rare exchange of gunfire comes following the reappearance a day earlier of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after a near three-week absence from the public eye that triggered intense speculation about his health.
A South Korean guard post was hit by several shots from the North, the joint chiefs of staff (JCS) said in a statement, adding no casualties were reported on the South’s side.
“Our military responded with two rounds of gunfire and a warning announcement according to our manual,” Seoul said.
The JCS added it was communicating with the North via their military hotline to determine the cause of the incident.
The two Koreas remain technically at war after the Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953, and despite its name, the Demilitarized Zone is one of the most fortified places on earth, replete with minefields and barbed-wire fences.
Easing military tensions on their border was one of the agreements reached between Kim and the South’s President Moon Jae-in at a summit in Pyongyang in September 2018.
But most of the deals have not been acted on by the North, with Pyongyang largely cutting off contact with Seoul.


COVID-19 spread harder to control without common effort says French PM as daily cases double

Updated 53 min 25 sec ago

COVID-19 spread harder to control without common effort says French PM as daily cases double

  • French health authorities reported 1,397 new COVID-19 infections over 24 hours on Tuesday
  • New clusters have mushroomed as people let their hair down on holiday, families hold reunions and workers return to offices

PARIS: The renewed spread of coronavirus in France could become harder to control without a collective effort to stop a rise in the infection rate, its prime minister said on Tuesday.
The public was becoming careless, Jean Castex warned, after official data recorded nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases from Saturday to Monday. The epidemic has now killed more than 30,300 people in France.
French health authorities reported 1,397 new COVID-19 infections over 24 hours on Tuesday, almost twice Monday’s tally.
The Health Ministry website said there were 15 new deaths in hospital due the disease, compared to an increase of 16 over a three-day period between Monday and Saturday,
“If we don’t act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control,” Castex said during a visit to a hospital intensive care ward in southern France.
France’s 7-day moving average of new infections climbed to 1,640 on Monday from 1,056 on July 31. The 7-day measure reached a post lockdown low of 272 on May 27, a little over 2 weeks after the government eased one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.
But as in most neighboring European countries, new clusters have mushroomed as people let their hair down on holiday, families hold reunions and workers return to offices and France is desperate to avoid another full-scale lockdown.
Britain has said it will not hesitate putting more countries on its quarantine list, including France, where hordes of Britons spend their summer vacations.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron held a video conference with top ministers from his Riviera summer retreat.
During the meeting, it was decided France would draw up new restrictions for the 20 largest cities to curb the rising infection rate and that a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people would be extended until Oct. 31.
Some cities have already taken action. Paris on Monday joined Toulouse, Lille, Biarritz and others in imposing a mandatory face mask order in crowded outdoor zones. They are already compulsory nationwide in shops and banks.
The prime minister said testing was “more than satisfactory,” with more than 600,000 tests being conducted weekly, but said more could still be done to target those with symptoms, the prime minister said.
Talking of the risk of another lockdown, Castex said: “no one wants to live through that again.”