N. Korea holds live-fire drill on maritime border

N. Korea holds live-fire drill on maritime border
This undated file photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) via the Korean News Service (KNS) on March 14, 2013 shows a live shell firing drill being conducted by North Korea at an unconfirmed location.

SEOUL - North Korea held a brief live-fire drill near its maritime border with South Korea on Tuesday, hours after US President Barack Obama wrapped up an Asia trip that Pyongyang had denounced as provocative.

A similar drill one month ago saw a number of shells land on the South Korean side of the border, prompting a response that resulted in both countries firing hundreds of artillery rounds into each other's territorial waters.

There was no repeat this time around, with Seoul warning it would respond "strongly" to any border violation.

North Korea had given advance notice of the drill which began around 2:00 pm (0500 GMT), according to the South Korean defence ministry.

"It lasted around 10 minutes and 50 shells were fired. None landed on the South side," a ministry spokesman said.

Residents on the South Korean border islands of Yeonpyeong and Baengnyeong were advised to move to civilian shelters, while South Korea scambled at least four fighter jets to patrol the area.

Used to repeated North Korean provocations, some simply brushed off the drill as an irritation.

"I'm so sick of it," said one inn owner on Baengnyeong island.

"The whole thing is just scaring my customers away. I'm more likely to die from business losses than an attack from the North," she told AFP by telephone.

The drill came amid concerns that the North is preparing to conduct its fourth atomic detonation, with recent satellite images showing stepped-up activity at its main nuclear test site.

It also followed the visit to Seoul last week by US President Barack Obama as part of a four-nation Asian tour that ended in Manila earlier Tuesday.

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