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North and South Korean Soldiers Exchange Fire in Shootout at DMZ

A 10-minute shootout occurred Sunday after North Korean troops approached the border and did not retreat when South Korean soldiers fired warning shots.
Photo via Flickr

A 10-minute shootout occurred Sunday between North and South Korea after soldiers from the North approached the heavily fortified border between the two countries and did not retreat when the South fired warning shots, according to an account of the incident from South Korean officials.

The skirmish was triggered when a group of 10 North Korean soldiers approached the military demarcation line inside the 2.5-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone separating the two states, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The North Koreans briefly returned fire before retreating. No fatalities or injuries were reported.

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The incident comes just 10 days after the last gun battle between the rival Koreas, which began after North Korea shot down balloons carrying leaflets that had been released by anti-Pyongyang campaigners from the South. No casualties arose from that incident either.

North and South Korea exchange gunfire over propaganda balloons as Kim Jong-un misses national event. Read more here.

North Korea has previously requested that the South rein in activists that send leaflets across the border encouraging people in the North to rise up against the their Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.

The North Korean news outlet Korean Central News Agency had previously issued a warning on Pyongyang's behalf that there would be an "uncontrollable catastrophe" if the sending of propaganda pamphlets wasn't halted.

The South has refused to curb leafleting, saying its citizens are exercising their democratic right to free speech.

The latest incident appears to undercut recent efforts by the Koreas to renew peace talks. The official lines of communication were reopened after top North Korean officials paid a rare surprise visit to the South for the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games earlier this month.

"The government hopes that the high level delegation's attendance at the Asian Games closing ceremony becomes a positive occasion for improved ties between the South and the North," South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said at the time.

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Planned high-level meetings in coming weeks are still set to go ahead, with some experts surmising the latest provocations could be advantageous posturing on the North's behalf ahead of the talks.

Meet the men and women who help rule North Korea from the shadows. Read more here.

VICE News' Kayla Ruble contributed to this report.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields

Photo via Flickr