|Graphics shows the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong near the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) hit by some 50 DPRK shells on Nov. 23, 2010, causing casualties and prompting a return fire from South Korea. (Xinhua/Zheng Yue)
SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday exchanged fire in waters off the west coast of the divided Korean Peninsula, leaving at least two South Korean marines killed and 16 others injured.
South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae released a statement late Tuesday, "strongly" condemning the DPRK's " unprovoked artillery firing against Yeonpyeong Island".
Calling it "indisputable armed provocation" against South Korea, Cheong Wa Dae said "It even indiscriminately fired against civilians. Such actions will never be tolerated."
According to Cheong Wa Dae, Seoul's military will "retaliate against any additional acts of provocation in a resolute manner," and the DPRK "will have to take full responsibility for the incident."
Fired at around 2:34 p.m. local time (0534 GMT), some shells landed on South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island near the contentious sea border called Northern Limit Line (NLL), between the two sides, Seoul's Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) confirmed to Xinhua.
South Korea fired some 80 artillery shells back in response, according to Seoul's defense minister Kim Tae-young.
The incident has claimed two South Korean soldiers' lives so far, and wounded 16 others, local media quoted military source as saying.
According to officials in Seoul, the military of South Korea is now put on a heightened alert. It is also reportedly the military deployed fighter jets to the Yellow Sea in deterrence against further provocation from the North.
However, the DPRK's military said in a statement issued late Tuesday that the Korean People's Army (KPA) countered the South Korean artillery firing on Tuesday afternoon, according to Pyongyang's official news agency KCNA.
South Korean troops fired into the waters of DPRK with dozens of shells at 1 p.m. local time (0400 GMT), and the KPA responded immediately to the South Korean military provocation with "determined military measures", it said.