The New York Times: SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean military went to “crisis status” on Tuesday and threatened military strikes after the North fired dozens of shells at a South Korean island, killing two of the South’s soldiers and setting off an exchange of fire in one of the most serious clashes between the two sides in decades.
President Lee Myung-bak met with security-related ministers and senior aides in the underground situation room at the Blue House, the presidential office and residence, and ordered strikes on North Korea’s missile base if the North made any “indication of further provocation,” The Korea Herald quoted a presidential spokesman, Hong Sang-pyo, as saying.
The North blamed the South for starting the exchange; the South acknowledged firing test shots in the area but denied that any had fallen in the North’s territory. It was in the same area that a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, was sunk in March, killing 46 sailors. Seoul blamed a North Korean torpedo attack; the North has denied any role.
The United States, Britain and Japan on Tuesday condemned the latest attack. The United States called on North Korea to “halt its belligerent action.” American officials tracking the episode said that a total of 175 artillery shells were exchanged by the two sides.
The South Korean Defense Ministry said that in addition to the two soldiers who were killed, 15 soldiers and 3 civilians were wounded. Television footage showed large plumes of black smoke spiraling from the island, and news reports said dozens of houses were on fire. The South put its fighter planes on alert but they did not take off. [MORE]
Man this could get very ugly really quick. North Korea is looking to transition power from Kim Jong Il to his son, so these crazy shows of strength will no doubt continue. I suspect that North Korea is turning these shows of strength up a notch, because they know America is in no shape financial or politically to do much about it.
Via: The New York Times