South Korea is accusing North Korea of violating the armistice between them with an artillery barrage that sent about a dozen shells into South Korean waters. The South's military command said Tuesday it will deal "sternly" with further provocations.
North Korea fired about 110 shells Monday off its western coast as South Korean naval exercises were ending. Most landed harmlessly on the North's side of the disputed maritime boundary, but the South says 10 shells landed near an island inhabited by South Korean troops and fishermen.
The South Korean warning came as colonel-level representatives from North Korea and the U.S.-led United Nations Command met at the truce village of Panmunjom to discuss charges of an earlier violation of the 1953 armistice. The South accuses North Korea of sinking its warship, the Cheonan, in March. Pyongyang denies the charge.
Tuesday's meeting was the fourth since mid-July to discuss the protocols and agenda for general officer talks on the sinking. The talks ended with the two sides agreeing to conduct another colonel-level meeting at a date to be determined.
South Korea's military command said it had sent a faxed message to Pyongyang protesting Monday's artillery fire. In Washington, the State Department dismissed the barrage as "ongoing chest-thumping" and said it had likely killed a lot of fish.
A North Korean newspaper backed by the ruling Communist Party renewed Pyongyang's threat of retaliation against any attack. The paper said the North would respond at any time it deems necessary based on what it called Pyongyang's "nuclear deterrent."
Tensions have been further inflamed by North Korea's seizure on Sunday of a South Korean fishing boat with its seven-man crew. The South on Monday demanded their release.
Cross-border tensions have risen dramatically since South Korea and the United States accused Pyongyang of torpedoing the Cheonan. Pyongyang insists it had nothing to do with the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.