A South Korea coast guard's ship sails past a floating naval base as the sun rises near Yeonpyeong island, South Korea. The South’s military fired five warning shots at North Korean boats on Friday morning. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, May 27 (UPI) -- A North Korean patrol boat and fishing vessel crossed a disputed maritime demarcation line near the western coast of the Korean peninsula, causing the South's military to fire warning shots.
The boats crossed the Northern Limit Line about 7:30 a.m. Friday, according to South Korea's joint chiefs of staff.
The vessels sailed about 700-800 meters below the demarcation line.
South Korea's navy was already on alert ahead of spring crab season, when more North Korean fishermen take the risk of floating into waters claimed by Seoul.
The South's military responded with five warning shots from a naval 40mm gun, and by 7:38 a.m. the ships returned to the North's side of the NLL, according to the joint chiefs.
The fishing boat crossed the line first and was followed by the patrol boat.
This is the second known case of shots being fired at North Korean vessels in 2016. On Feb. 8, a lone North Korean patrol boat crossed into the South's side, leading to warning shots fired from a South Korean naval gun.
Seoul's defense ministry has previously stated the number of fishing boats operating illegally in the South's maritime zone has doubled. An average of 140 North Korea boats now cross the line daily, and about 240 Chinese boats are fishing in South Korean waters, the ministry said.
North Korea has shown no signs following through with an international call for denuclearization, but Pyongyang has been calling for military-level talks with Seoul nearly every day since the conclusion of its Seventh Party Congress, Newsis reported.
The South has dismissed calls for such talks that do not include denuclearization on the agenda.