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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired Tuesday scores of artillery onto a South Korean island and into waters off the west coast of the divided peninsula, killing a South Korean soldier and prompting a return fire, officials here said.|
Reportedly fired at 2:34 p.m. local time, some shells landed on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island near a tense western maritime border between the two former wartime rivals. Apart from one reported death, several residents and soldiers have also been injured, according to media reports.
South Korea fired back in response, and the military is now put on a heightened alert, officials said. Media reports said the military also deployed fighter jets to the Yellow Sea in deterrence against further provocation.
South Korea, though taken aback, seems wary of further escalation. President Lee Myung-bak, who convened an emergency meeting shortly after the exchanges of fire, cautioned against possible escalation of the situation.
"We urge North Korea to immediately stop provocation and we will sternly deal with it in case of further provocation," Yonhap quoted South Korean defense minister Kim Tae-young as telling lawmakers.
The clash came at a time when South Korea is engaged in massive annual military exercises involving some 70,000 troops, launched Monday and scheduled to last through Nov. 30.
It also came shortly after Pyongyang's disclosure of a new and sophisticated facility to enrich uranium, which sparked new concerns here over potential nuclear threats.
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