North Korea has blown up a joint liaison office with the South as tensions over defectors sending leaflets into the North grow, Seoul says.
An explosion was heard then smoke was seen rising from the joint industrial complex in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, South Korean news agency Yonhap said.
Seoul’s unification ministry confirmed the building, intended to facilitate dialogue between the two Koreas, had been destroyed at 2.49pm (6.49am BST) on Tuesday.
Hours earlier, the North had threatened to move its army into the demilitarised zone as tensions grow due to defectors sending leaflets critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by balloon over the border.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), in the North, said it is getting ready to send troops into the zone between the two countries which were demilitarised in 2018 to “turn the front line into a fortress”.
“Our army will rapidly and thoroughly implement any decisions and orders of the Party and government,” the KPA said in a statement carried by the official KCNA state news agency.
Pyongyang has threatened to sever inter-Korean ties and take retaliatory measures over the leaflets.
The powerful sister of Mr Kim, and his potential successor, Kim Yo-Jung warned days earlier that the North would demolish the “usless” inter-Korean liaison office and she would leave it to the military to come up with the next retaliation step against the “enemy” South.
“Our army is keeping a close watch on the current situation in which the (North-South) relations are turning worse and worse, and getting itself fully ready for providing a sure military guarantee to any external measures to be taken by the party and government,” said the KPA’s General Staff.