source with redirect;North Korea fired scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing two soldiers, in one of the heaviest attacks on its neighbor since the Korean War ended in 1953.
The barrage -- the South fired back and sent a fighter jet to the area -- was close to a disputed maritime border on the west of the divided peninsula and the scene of deadly clashes in the past. South Korea was conducting military drills in the area at the time but said it had not been firing at the North.
The attack came as the reclusive North, and its ally China, presses regional powers to return to negotiations on its nuclear weapons program and revelations at the weekend Pyongyang is fast developing another source of material to make atomic bombs.
It also follows moves by leader Kim Jong-il to make his youngest, but unproven, son his heir apparent, leading some analysts to question whether the bombardment might in part have been an attempt to burnish the ruling family's image with the military.
"Houses and mountains are on fire and people are evacuating. You can't see very well because of plumes of smoke," a witness on the island told YTN Television before the shelling, which lasted about an hour, ended.
YTN said at least 200 North Korean shells hit Yeonpyeong, which lies off the west coast of the divided peninsula near a disputed maritime border. Most landed on a military base there.
Photographs from Yeongyeong island, just 120 km (75 miles) west of Seoul, showed columns of smoke rising from buildings. Two soldiers were killed in the attack, 17 wounded. Three civilians were also hurt.
News of the attack rattled global markets, already unsettled by Ireland's debt woes and a shift to less risky assets.
Experts say North Korea's Kim has for decades played a carefully calibrated game of provocation to squeeze concessions from the international community and impress his own military. The risk is that the leadership transition has upset this balance and that events spin out of control.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who has pursued a hard line with the North since taking office nearly three years ago, said a response had to be firm following the attack.
But he made no suggestion the South would retaliate further, suggesting Seoul was taking a measured response to prevent things getting out of hand.
The North has a huge array of artillery pointed at Seoul that could decimate an urban area home to around 25 million people and cause major damage to its trillion dollar economy.
The two Koreas are still technically at war -- the Korean War ended only with a truce -- and tension rose sharply early this year after Seoul accused the North of torpedoing one of its navy vessels, killing 46 sailors.
North Korea said its wealthy neighbor started the fight.
"Despite our repeated warnings, South Korea fired dozens of shells from 1 p.m. ... and we've taken strong military action immediately," its KCNA news agency said in a brief statement.
another source with redirect;India has formed two new army divisions - comprising more than 36,000 men - to defend the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The remote north-eastern state adjoins China which claims large parts of it.
The 56th Division will be based in the nearby state of Nagaland to guard the eastern flank of Arunachal Pradesh from Chinese attack through Burma.
The other new formation, the 71st Division, will be based in Assam to protect central Arunachal Pradesh.
There has been no response so far from China to the decision.
Already the Indian Fifth Mountain Division guards western Arunachal Pradesh while another division is responsible for protecting the eastern part of the state.
In addition there are counter-insurgency troops in Assam who can be sent to the Sino-Indian border at short notice.
A total of 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers have been assigned to the two new divisions, which are being especially equipped for mountain warfare.
Officials say they were formed at the behest of the Indian army chief, General VK Singh - who said they were necessary to beef up defences against China.
Gen Singh was not available for comment but one of his staff officers, on condition of anonymity, told the BBC that the army chief had "pushed very hard to fast-track the raising of the two divisions".
He said that they should be "fully operational" by March 2011.
He said their formation was India's response to the "huge Chinese build-up" in Tibet over the last three to four years. But he did not wish to elaborate.
India is also raising a paramilitary force called the Arunachal Scouts and Sikkim Scouts to help the army protect the Sino-Indian border in the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
"All the men in these formations will be drawn from mountain-fit local tribesmen but the officers will be from the army, at least for a while," said a corps commander.
Their formation will be modelled on the Ladakh Scouts, who the army says bravely fought Pakistani intruders during the Kargil conflict of 1999.
India says the new measures have been put in place partly because China has "superb" communications on its side of the border, especially after a new train line to Lhasa was built in 2006.
India says that the Chinese airlift capability is also far superior.
The formation of the two new divisions means that India's deployments in the eastern sector of its border with China now matches the five army divisions that existed in 1986-87, when the two countries nearly went to war.
But after India and China signed a "Peace and Tranquillity" treaty in 1993, both sides scaled down their deployments as part of a confidence-building package.