North, South Korea fire artillery shells across western sea borders
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
Seoul, Nov 23, IRNA -- North Korea on Tuesday fired scores of rockets at South Korea’s big Yeonpyeong island, setting houses on fire and killing two Marines. South Korea returned fire, military officials said.
The official North Korean news agency said in a brief statement Tuesday night that the South had started the fight when it “recklessly fired into our sea area.”
The South Korean deputy minister of defense, Lee Yong-geul, acknowledged that artillery units had been firing test shots Monday afternoon close to the North Korean coast, from a battery on the South Korean island of Paeknyeongdo.
But he denied Pyongyang’s charge that the shots had crossed the sea border.
IRNA reporter in Seoul said that South Korea is shocked with civilian casualties. He said that at least 15 people were wounded in the heavy bombardment at Yeonpyeong island.
While skirmishes between the two countries have not been uncommon in recent years, the clash appeared to have been the most serious in decades and came amid heightened tensions over the North’s nuclear program.
An American nuclear scientist who recently visited the North said he had been shown a secret and modern enrichment facility.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency meeting of defense and security-related agencies and urged officials to “prevent further escalation,” a spokesman said.
China, Pyongyang’s prominent backer, expressed concern over the flare-up of violence and urged all parties to “do more to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30088812
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