US President Barack Obama has ordered a naval task force to conduct joint exercises with South Korea’s naval forces after North Korea struck an inhabited South Korean island near the disputed western maritime border on 23 November. According to confirmed reports, a mortar attack killed four people, two civilians, and two military personnel.

South Korea’s president Lee Myung-bak has faced intense domestic criticism for his measured response to the attack. He indicated that if the North continues its provocations, he would “respond with stern retaliation.” International leaders have urged calm in what is hailed as the worst incident among the two nations since the Korean War ended in 1953.

Barack Obama says he is outraged by the attack since it came so soon after the latest revelations about North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities.

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