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What We Know So Far About the North Korean Artillery Attack on South Korea [UPDATED With Video]

23 Nov 2010

UPDATE [12:50 P.M. EST]: North Korea now claims that its southern counterpart began the artillery exchange, and was merely responding in kind. The South says it had been conducting military drills, but had not fired upon their neighbor. In the upcoming days, U.N. Security Council partners will be meeting to discuss the attack.

UPDATE [4:47 A.M. EST]: The White House has released a statement, saying it “strongly condemns” the attack and urging the North “to halt its belligerent action.” Also, Yonhap is reporting that a second South Korean marine has died.

UPDATE [4:19 A.M. EST]: Kim Myong-choi, executive director of North Korea’s Centre for Korean-American Peace, has called the artillery attacks “a totally justifiable act of self-defence” in response to the South’s sea drills, claiming a nuclear war could happen “at any point” unless the exercises are halted, according to The Guardian. North Korea has repeatedly made similar claims in the past.

UPDATE [3:00 A.M. EST]: The South Korean army confirms that one soldier was killed in the artillery fire. The exchange lasted for an hour before suddenly ending, leaving houses in flames. Meanwhile, China has expressed concern about the incident.

UPDATE [2:26 A.M. EST]: The injured soldier toll has risen to fourteen, four seriously, according to Korea’s YTN television network. Witnesses report island residents are fleeing by fishing boats.

Upon news of the artillery exchange, the Korean won experienced a drop in offshore markets. In a quick domino effect, U.S. ten-year Treasury futures rose and the Japanese yen also fell.

For the full story, read Reuters’ excellent reportage on the situation so far.

ORIGINAL STORY AFTER THE BREAK:

South Korea’s top presidential aides allegedly met in an underground bunker at the presidential compound after North Korea fired several dozen artillery shells at the populated South Korean island of Yeonpyeong earlier today.

South Korean news outlets reported that people were injured — including four soldiers — and that several houses had collapsed. Reuters also wrote on Twitter that residents are in the process of being evacuated to bunkers.

An anonymous official says that South Korea has fired back. The country is also reportedly scrambling F-16 jets, its military on highest non-wartime alert after warning of a stronger response, should the North decide to continue its provocation.

The two nations have held a tenuous relationship over their western maritime border, as the North does not recognize the line drawn by the United Nations following the end of the Korean War.

[via Reuters]

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