North Korea has fired at least 200 rounds of artillery at a South Korean island, injuring at least four South Korean soldiers. The island, Yeonpyeong, has been evacuated as 60-70 houses are reportedly on fire. South Korea has returned fire and scrambled fighter jets.
UPDATE 2:33 AM: Steve Herman of Voice of America is currently tweeting updates.
UPDATE 6:05 AM: The White House has issued this statement:
“Earlier today North Korea conducted an artillery attack against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. We are in close and continuing contact with our Korean allies.
“The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement.
“The United States is firmly committed to the defense of our ally, the Republic of Korea, and to the maintenance of regional peace and stability.”
This statement has been posted on the Facebook page of 8th Army-Korea:
You have undoubtedly been watching the news reports of North Koreanartillery firing into the Northwest Islands off the coast of the Republic ofKorea. I want to ensure you that this is isolated to the Northwest Islandarea. USFK is closely monitoring the situation and exchanging informationwith our ROK allies as we always do. We’ll continue to keep you informed. Gen. Walter Sharp, UNC/CFC/USFK Commander
(Spacing errors in original.)
And from South Korean President Lee Myung Bak:
“Our military… will sternly retaliate against any further provocations,” a presidential statement said.
“North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong island constitutes a clear armed provocation. Furthermore, its reckless shelling of civilian targets is unpardonable.
“North Korean authorities must take responsibility.”
A South Korean defense ministry spokesman told reporters: “This is an intentional and planned attack… and it is clearly in violation of the armistice.”