Developing Story: South Korea was rocked on Tuesday on a small island in Yellow Sea near the border with North Korea By The Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea. The North got into a shooting war with South killing two Marines. From AP via Yahoo News:
North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire Tuesday along their disputed frontier, raising tensions between the rivals to their highest level in more than a decade. The communist nation warned of more military strikes if the South encroaches on the maritime border by “even 0.001 millimeter.”
The skirmish began when North Korea warned the South to halt military drills near their sea border, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters — but away from the North Korean shore — the North retaliated by shelling the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population.
Seoul responded by unleashing its own barrage from K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers and scrambling fighter jets. Two South Korean marines were killed in the shelling that also injured 15 troops and three civilians.
Officials in Seoul said there could be considerable North Korean casualties.
The confrontation lasted about an hour and left the uneasiest of calms, with each side threatening further bombardments.
North Korea’s apparent progress in its nuclear weapons program and its preparations for handing power to a new generation have plunged relations on the heavily militarized peninsula to new lows in recent weeks.
News of the attack drew the ire of President Obama. From Also AP via Yahoo News:
President Barack Obama on Tuesday pledged the United States would defend South Korea after what the White House branded an outrageous attack by North Korea on its neighbor. Yet with its options limited, the U.S. sought a diplomatic rather a military response to one of those most ominous clashes between the Koreas in decades.
“South Korea is our ally. It has been since the Korean War,” Obama said in his first comments about the North Korean shelling of a South Korean island. “And we strongly affirm our commitment to defend South Korea as part of that alliance.”
Meanwhile China observing the action from the sidelines. From Yonhap News Agency:
The Chinese government said Tuesday it is keeping tabs on the situation surrounding North Korea’s abrupt artillery attack on a South Korean island in the West Sea.
Washington and Seoul agreed to host joint military exercises next week. From ABC News:
A White House official tells ABC News that the U.S. is going to spend a great deal of effort trying to get China to take a more “robust” stand against North Korea’s actions.
“We need to send a strong signal to the Chinese that they need to stand up to North Korea,” the official says, adding that Russia’s statement condemning this attack was much stronger than after the North Koreans sank the ROKS Cheonan (PCC-772) in March 2010.
“There’s a greater degree of alarm in the international community,” the official said, though China needs to be worked on.
There are myriad actions the U.S. is discussing with allies, including action at the United Nations Security Council and further sanctions. No decisions have been made yet, the consultation process is in the “initial stages.”