UN probe finds NKorea violated pact

The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 9, 2011; 9:39 PM

UNITED NATIONS -- An investigation by the United Nations Command in Korea says that North Korea violated its armistice agreement with the South when it shelled a South Korean island in November, according to a report circulated Wednesday by the Security Council.

The probe also found the South was justified in firing back in self-defense.

The findings of the report were ordered by the unified command of multinational military forces operating under the United Nations umbrella, and were contained in a letter that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice sent to the Security Council.

The Security Council created the command to keep the peace between North and South after Korean War hostilities ended.

The report says no more investigation is necessary, but recommends that officials for both sides seek a political solution to their disagreements after the shelling. It also recommends that both sides seek undisputed areas to conduct their military exercises.

Pyongyang had complained on Nov. 23 that the South was encroaching on its territorial waters while conducting military exercises near the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. When the South ignored warnings to halt its drills near the disputed sea border, the North bombarded Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population.

The investigation found that two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed. Another 16 South Korean military personnel and 52 civilians were injured, the report says, while military facilities suffered considerable damage and some homes were destroyed.

While it appears that South Korean counter-fires struck targets in North Korea, "it is not known whether any KPA or civilians were killed or injured" the report says, referring to the North's Korean People's Army.

President Obama condemned the attack, but the U.S. did not reposition any of its 29,000 troops in the South.

© 2011 The Associated Press