by Adam Smyth
Two more deaths have been confirmed today as a result of North Korea’s shelling of South korean territory yesterday.
Adding to yesterday’s revelations that two South Korean marines were killed as a result of the North Korean artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island, which lies in the disputed Korean Yellow sea border, the burnt bodies of two South Korean civilians bodies were found today. The civilians were believed to be construction workers and in their 60s. The rising death toll comes amidst reports of at least 18 people injured in the bombardment in which dozens of shells exploded on the island. As well as a South Korean military base bearing the brunt of the damage in the attack, TV pictures show civilian shops and homes burnt and destroyed also.
South Korea returned fire and scrambled fighter jets into the air as a warning to the North. It has also suspended flood aid to the North and threatened missile strikes if there were “further provocations”.
In response to South Korea’s retaliatory fire against it, North Korea has repeated claims that Seoul provoked the artillery attack by firing into the North’s territory. It has also accused Seoul of driving the Korean peninsula to “the brink of war” with “reckless military provocation” and by postponing humanitarian aid according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called the developing events the “gravest incidents” since the end of the Korean War which ended on 27th July 1953 with a ceasefire, leaving the two countries technically still at war.
Amongst widespread international condemnation of North Korea’s actions, The US President has pledged to stand shoulder to shoulder with South Korea. As well as having 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea, the USS George Washington left from south of Tokyo on Wednesday now bound for Korean waters.
The BBC’S John Sudworth in Seoul said a deterrent effect may be limited as the same aircraft carrier was in Korean waters just a few months ago as part of a show strength that appears to have done nothing to temper North Korea’s actions.
The KCNA which is North Korea’s official news agency said “the US is the arch criminal threatening the peace and stability of the region”.