North Korea’s military vowed on Wednesday to retaliate for anti-Pyongyang signs posted at front-line South Korean army units, as rare talks between the rivals on a stalled joint tourism project broke down.

North Korea has also been releasing a large amount of water from a dam southward without prior notice since Monday night, Seoul officials said. A similar move caused a surge that killed six South Koreans in 2009.

The North’s Korean People’s Army issued its military warning via state media, promising “merciless military retaliatory measures” until South Korea apologizes and removes signs that it says “seriously hurt the dignity of the leadership” of North Korea.

Earlier on Wednesday, an unidentified North Korean government spokesman warned of a “sacred war” against South Korea over the signs.

The threats follow a report on Tuesday by South Korea’s Hankyoreh newspaper that some South Korean army units near the border had set up anti—North Korea slogans in the wake of two deadly attacks blamed on North Korea last year.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry confirmed the substance of the report, saying some army units have taken such measures to bolster their soldiers’ mental toughness against North Korea.

South Korea’s Land Ministry said a North Korean dam has been releasing about 1,000 tons of water per second over the past three days into a river flowing to South Korea. The release hasn’t caused any damage in South Korea, it said.

The Unification Ministry said the North didn’t inform South Korea of the water release.

Keywords: Korean unrest

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