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North Korea says blasts at border were construction works

SEOUL - North Korea said early on Thursdaythat blasts heard from its territory that led to retaliatorywarning shots from the South on Wednesday were only the soundsof building work at a construction site.

"There was normal blasting in the area of South HwanghaeProvince close to the five islands in the West Sea of Korea onAugust 10 as part of the brisk construction of a gigantic objectaimed at improving the standard of people's living," KCNA statenews agency reported.

In two separate incidents on Wednesday, the South issuedverbal warnings and fired warning shots toward the maritimeborder.

South Korean military officials said it appeared the Northhad been conducting drills off the west coast of the dividedpeninsula and that some shells had landed close to the maritimeborder.

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