A destroyed house is seen after it was hit by artillery shells fired by North Korea on Yeonpyeong Island November 24, 2010. South Korea warned North Korea of "enormous retaliation" if it took more aggressive steps after Pyongyang fired scores of artillery shells at a South Korean island in one of the heaviest attacks on its neighbor since the Korean War ended in 1953
Bulgaria strongly condemns the artillery shelling by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) which resulted in the death and injury of civilians, and killed two South Korean marines, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said on November 24 2010.
"We are very concerned about this incident, which is the most serious on the Korean Peninsula for years, and the destabilising effect it might have in the region," the media statement said.
"We urge the authorities of the DPPK to refrain themselves from future provocations. We are hoping that both sides will demonstrate restraint and a responsible attitude, in order to avoid any escalation of tensions," the statement said.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov phoned the South Korean ambassador to Sofia to express his condolences for the loss of life during the shelling on November 23.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also quick to condemn the attack, calling for immediate de-escalation of hostilities in the region on November 23, following the news that artillery shelling was exchanged on both sides.
According to the BBC, the South Korean military responded after it was subjected to "dozens" of artillery shells from the DPRK, which killed two marines and wounded several people, Subsequently, South Korea is at its highest non-wartime alert following the incident.
Conflicting accounts emanated from either side of the conflict. Pyongyang authorities insist that they were victims of a South Korean aggression and they merely returned fire. Seoul said it had been conducting exercises but directed shelling away from its northern neighbour.
"This is one of the gravest incidents since the end of the Korean War," the Secretary-General said. "Any differences should be resolved by peaceful means and dialogue."
The European Union was also swift to condemn the hostilities. In a statement, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Catherine Ashton said that she was "deeply concerned by today’s events on the Korean Peninsula, which have reportedly led to casualties among South Korean military and civilians".
"I strongly condemn this attack by the DPRK. I call on the North Korean authorities to refrain from any action that risks further escalation and to fully respect the Korean Armistice Agreement. I welcome a call for restraint by President Lee Myung-bak. We are monitoring developments closely. I would like to underline that peace and stability on the Korean peninsula remains essential for the region and the wider world," she added.
Gallup International Association poll gives president Sarkisian’s party 44 per cent, while three main challengers alleged ‘machinations’ by ruling party in what – in contrast to 2008 – reportedly was a largely peaceful election.
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