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North, South Korea trade gunfire across tense border

South Korea says that North Korean forces 'launched the first shots' in an exchange of gunfire in a remote region. The flare-up comes just before a reunion of families divided by the Korean War.

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A man watches a TV news program reporting North and South Korean troops exchanging gunfire, at Seoul train station in South Korea, on Oct. 29.

Lee Jin-man/AP

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North and South Korean troops exchanged gunfire Friday evening in a remote mountain region about 70 miles northeast of Seoul, South Korean defense officials reported.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff charged North Korean forces with "launching the first shots" at a South Korean guard post just below the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that has divided the Korean peninsula since the end of the Korean War in July 1953.

A South Korean defense official said South Korean soldiers had fired three shots back across the DMZ "under the rules of engagement."

The shootout was the first such flare-up on land in two years, but North and South Korean warships clashed in the west or Yellow Sea on several occasions before the South Korean Cheonan warship was torpedoed in March.

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