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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Machine Gunfire Exchanged Between North, South Korea

Aired July 16, 2003 - 20:31   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news to report right now. We have just learned that South Korea has exchanged machine gunfire with communist North Korea along the demilitarized zone. The divided peninsula's heavily fortified frontier.
Let's go straight to the Pentagon right now where Jamie McIntyre is standing by to put this all into context for us this evening. Is this a big deal?

JAIME MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Paula, good evening. At this point the combined forces command in South Korea, which is U.S. and South Korean troops, says that they're investigating this incident as a quote, minor incident. They believe it's a minor incident. Actually a team from the United Nation's Military Armistice Commission, which is responsible for enforcing the armistice that's been in effect since 1953, is just now leaving Seoul to go to the scene to try to figure out what happened in this apparent exchange of gunfire.

It's not believed that anybody was injured and it's not exactly clear what happened that's what's going to be the subject of this investigation. But at this point a U.S. military spokesman tells CNN they don't believe this say major incident. It's again, not clear exactly what happened, but it does appear that either some time this morning or late last night, there was some kind of exchange of gunfire along the DMZ in Korea between the north and the south.

Again, right now it's about 9:30 in the morning in Korea which is -- and it is Thursday. So this happened either, again, early Thursday morning or late Wednesday night Korea time -- Paula.

ZAHN: And just a final thought to put this all into, once again, perspective this evening, when we've seen the North Koreans make some pretty outrageous statements this week, anything else we should read into this?

MCINTYRE: Well, just that there have been increasing tensions between, in particular, the United States and North Korea. North Korea has taken provocative actions, including, you may recall in March when they sent up MiG fighter planes to shadow a U.S. reconnaissance plane along the coast. So North Korea has taken more provocative stance recently, but it's unclear what happened in this instance. Of course, that demilitarized zone is the most heavily fortified board of the world with a million men army on one side in North Korea and, of course, the South Korean army about 600,000, just south of that. So it's a very, very tense area.

ZAHN: Jamie McIntyre, thanks for the update.

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