The skirmish began when Pyongyang warned the South to halt military drills in the area, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters, albeit away from the North Korean shore, the North retaliated by bombarding the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population.
South Korea responded by firing K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers and dispatching fighter jets. Officials in Seoul said there could be considerable North Korean casualties. The entire skirmish lasted about an hour.
Analysts question Korea torpedo incident
How is it that a submarine of a fifth-rate power was able to penetrate a U.S.-South Korean naval exercise and sink a ship that was designed for anti-submarine warfare?
Such questions are being fueled by suggestions in the South Korean and Japanese media that the naval exercise was intended to provoke the North to attack. The resulting public outcry in the South, according to this analysis, would bolster support for a conservative government in Seoul that is opposed to reconciliation efforts.
As fanciful as it may sound to Western ears, the case that Operation Foal Eagle was designed to provoke the North has been underscored by constant references in regional media to charts showing the location where the ship was sunk — in waters close to, and claimed by, North Korea.