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NKorea bans shipping off west coast; SKorea vigilant


SEUOL (AFP): North Korea has announced a nine-day ban on shipping off part of its west coast and South Korea is watching for any signs of short-range missile tests, according to media reports.

“We are closely monitoring North Korea’s military activities as it imposed the no-sail zone from June 19-27,” a defence ministry official told Yonhap news agency on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

The JoongAng Daily newspaper carried a similar report.

The no-sail zone was declared near the western port city of Nampo, north of the disputed inter-Korean sea border, the official told Yonhap.

The ministry believes the declaration may be in preparation for a regular artillery exercise but is checking whether there are plans for short-range missile launches, the agency said.

The North has frequently test-launched short-range missiles in the past. But tensions are currently high following the sinking of a South Korean warship near the maritime border in March with the loss of 46 lives.

South Korea, citing the findings of a multinational probe, says a North Korean torpedo sank the ship. It is pressing for United Nations Security Council condemnation of its neighbour.

The North denies involvement and threatens a military response to any UN actions.

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