Early Tuesday,Â in one of the heaviest bombardments in Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953, North Korea fired some 200 artillery shells into the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, in retaliation for South Korea's military activities on the island.
South Korea returned fire into North Korea, readied its F-16 fighter jets and put its military on 'crisis alert' status, the highest non-wartime military status. South Korea also fired self-propelled howitzers.
South Korea also warned of severe retaliation if these attacks continue.Two marines from South Korea have been killed, and some 10 or 12 other soldiers wounded, four of them seriously. Several dozen homes were set on fire.
The White House also has condemned North Korea's attack. In a statement released before dawn this morning, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on North Korea "to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the armistice agreement," the pact that ended the Korean War, according to The Associated Press.
Gibbs also reaffirmed the United States' commitment to the Republic of Korea.
President Obama reaffirmed the US' commitment to South Korea, stating in a speech earlier this month to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, when he said: "The United States will never waver in our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. We will not waver," according to the Associated Press.
North Korea opened fire because it had warned South Korea to stop military drills in the region.
Yeonpyeong island is one island in a smallÂ group of islands near the long-disputed western border between North and South Korea.
North Korea has consistently refused to recognize this border, even though the United Nations had drawn it in a treaty in 1953, thus marking the end of the 1950 - 1953 Korean War.
This border remains a flash point between the two countries, with three bloody skirmishes having occurred in recent years, most recently in November, 2009.
This is the latest in recent news from North Korea, ever since North Korean leaderÂ Kim Jong Il a month ago announced that his youngest son, Kim Jong Un will become his heir apparent.
Between 1,200 and 1,300 people live on the island. Two previous attacks have occurred on this island. The island houses military installations.
Sources stated that columns of thick, black smoke could be seen arising from the island.
This is a Korean video.
In March, a South Korean warship was sunk and 46 sailors died. Seoul blamed a torpedo from North Korea for the sinking, but North Korea denied any responsibility.
European stock markets opened lower on Tuesday morning, according to The Wall Street Journal.
This was based in part on a special New York Times news alert from a wire report from The Associated Press.
Copyright Â©Â Kathryn Esplin 2010