North Korea has fired dozens of rounds of artillery onto a populated South Korean island near their disputed western border, with South Korea returning fire and scrambling fighter jets, according to official reports. At least one South Korean marine is said to have been killed during the attack.
Donald Kirk, of the Christian Science Monitor, said that North Korea fired 200 rounds and South Korea responded by firing some 80 rounds back.
But he told Today presenter Sarah Montague that it was not believed that South Korea would take any retaliatory action. He added that stocks of fish in South Korean waters around the island may have been a factor in the attack.
The incident comes as tensions have been raised following North Korea's claim that it has a new uranium enrichment facility and just over a month after North Korean leader Kim Jong-il unveiled his youngest son Kim Jong-un as his heir apparent.
The BBC's Chris Hogg told the programme that Kim Jong-il "felt he had to keep the North Korean military onside" over the succession, adding that the military was "allowed to do what it wanted".
"China has been surprised by its lack of influence" over North Korea, he said. A Chinese spokesman has said that it was aware of the incident, which it viewed with "concern".
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