A number of missiles were fired by North and South Korea into waters near each other’s coasts in a marked escalation of hostilities.
North Korea launched least 23 missiles in a single day towards south Korea including one that landed less than 60km (37 miles) off the South’s city of Sokcho, international media reported.
According to a report by BBC News, Seoul responded with warplanes firing three air-to-ground missiles over the disputed maritime demarcation line.
Later Pyongyang fired six more missiles and a barrage of 100 artillery shells, the report said.
Quoting North, the report said launches are in response to large-scale military exercises current being held by South Korea and the United States, which it calls “aggressive and provocative”.
On Tuesday, Pyongyang warned they would pay “the most horrible price in history” if they continued their joint military drills, seen as a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons.
US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and his South Korean counterpart, Park Jin, condemned North Korea’s “escalatory launch of ballistic missiles”.
The North has tested a record number of missiles this year as tensions have risen.
The report said despite crippling sanctions, Pyongyang conducted six nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017, and is rumoured to be planning a seventh.
It has continued to advance its military capability- in breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions- to threaten its neighbours and potentially even bring the US mainland within striking range.
Wednesday’s exchanges began with missile launches by Pyongyang into waters close to South Korea, triggering air raid sirens on Ulleung, an island controlled by Seoul.
The BBC News report said residents there were told to evacuate to underground shelters.
One ballistic missile crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed maritime border between the Koreas, the report added.