-- A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday that North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean island was unacceptable and called on both sides to show restraint to prevent a wider conflict. "We think the use of force on the Korean peninsula, and in international relations in general, is a path that is absolutely unacceptable," the official told reporters on condition his name was not published. "We think any dispute between North and South Korea must be decided exclusively by diplomatic means," the official said. "Now it is important that the situation does not cross over into a military conflict."

-- South Korea's defence ministry said on Tuesday that North Korea's firing of artillery shells was a clear violation of an armistice between the two countries, and said Pyongyang had planned the shelling intentionally. "This is an intentional and planned attack... and it is clearly in violation of the armistice," Lee Hong-ki, South Korea's defence ministry official, told reporters.

-- Two South Korean marines died among four seriously injured on an island hit by dozens of artillery shells fired by North Korea on Tuesday, South Korea's Join Chiefs of Staff said. Meanwhile, the Unification Ministry of South Korea announced that the government would indefinitely postpone Red Cross talks with North Korea, slated for Thursday.

 -- The White House on Tuesday condemned an artillery attack by North Korea on a South Korean island and demanded the action cease. "The United States strongly condemns this attack and calls on North Korea to halt its belligerent action," the White House said in a statement.

 -- South Korea warned North Korea it  would "sternly retaliate" for any further provocations. 
"Our military... will sternly retaliate against any further  provocations," a presidential statement said. "North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong island constitutes a clear  armed provocation. Furthermore, its reckless shelling of civilian  targets is unpardonable. "North Korean authorities must take responsibility."

Source: Agencies