World

N. Korea calls S. Korea's border firing reckless provocation

North Korea on Thursday accused South Korea of firing 450 machine gun rounds at a flock of birds earlier this week, dismissing as a fabrication Seoul's claim that it had fired warning shots because of an object flying across their border.

The North's General Staff said the South's firing is a "reckless military provocation" aimed at promoting hostility toward Pyongyang and maintaining a confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.

It was also a "stopgap measure to check the war-weariness sweeping the puppet army in the face of the rapidly developing nuclear and ballistic rocket technology" of North Korea, the General Staff said in a statement carried by state media. It said North Korea will closely watch how South Korea's "confrontation hysteria" would develop.

South Korea said its military fired an unspecified number of warning shots on Tuesday after detecting an object flying across the border. They later said it was probably a balloon carrying propaganda and that North Korean leaflets were subsequently found at the border.

The Koreas face off across the world's most heavily armed border, and their militaries occasionally trade gunfire and accuse each other of provoking first.

Relations between the Koreas are in one of their lowest ebbs now mainly due to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.