SEOUL — North Korean soldiers brought heavy machine guns into the Demilitarized Zone on Thursday for the fifth straight day, prompting complaints from the South Korean Defense Ministry, a spokesman said.

Four machine guns were brought to sandbagged fortifications, a violation of the armistice agreement, said Lt. Yoon Won-jae, a ministry spokesman. It occurred in the western DMZ, where North and South Korea are working together on a highway and railway project.

The North and South also agreed separately not to bring heavy weapons into the DMZ during the railway and highway construction, Yoon said.

Lee Ferguson, U.S. Forces Korea spokeswoman, said the U.N. Command “is currently conducting an investigation into the allegation that an armistice violation was committed by the introduction of automatic weapons into the DMZ recently by the North Korean People’s Army. More information will be available when the investigation is completed.”

Yoon said the North Korean soldiers have tried to hide the weapons with a coat. The weapons are withdrawn after the project work ends for the day, he said.

The Defense Ministry has sent three messages since Dec. 13 demanding the weapons’ removal, Yoon said.

“We have been explaining to North Korea and the press our position on that issue,” he said, which is to “not allow any type of machine guns or heavy weaponry in the DMZ area.”

While North and South Korea can talk directly with each other over administrative issues related to the transportation corridor, the area still falls under the U.N. Command’s jurisdiction.

Headed by U.S. Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, the command is composed of 15 nations, some of whom contributed combat troops during the Korean War.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now