North, South Korea Exchange Fire; Taliban Negotiator Was an Impostor


In this image provided by a local resident, smoke rises from South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island near the border with North Korea on Tuesday.

South Korea said two of its marines were killed after North Korea unleashed a barrage of artillery on Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday. Most of the artillery hit a military base on the island, but several homes were burned down and there were reports of civilian injuries. North Korea denies it provoked the incident, which lasted for about an hour.

The island, near the border, has been the site of past naval skirmishes. This incident comes during a time of heightened insecurity as the outside world looks for clues about the succession of Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un. The two Koreas never formally signed a peace treaty when the war ended in 1953.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated that the United States, with troops long stationed in the country, is “firmly committed” to South Korean defense.

The altercation also came on the heels of the discovery of a new light-water reactor facility, which has raised concerns about attempts to boost the country’s nuclear weapons capability. North Korea claims it would be used for providing electricity.

President Obama to Visit Chrysler Plant as Part of Tour

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will visit a Chrylser plant in Kokomo, Ind., Tuesday as part of the White House to Main Street tour. They are expected to tout the plant as a success story of the auto industry bailout working. The trip is part of a busy holiday week of travel and meetings.

Man Involved in Afghan Peace Talks Said to Be Impostor

U.S. and Afghan officials say a man who presented himself as a Taliban commander in negotiations was not one of the group’s senior leaders, the New York Times reported. The man, who negotiators believed to be Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the second in command of the Taliban, traveled from Pakistan and was flown in on NATO helicopters. He reportedly received sums of money to continue negotiations. The Afghan government has indicated that it sees negotiations as a possible means to end the war.

Cambodia Stampede Kills at Least 300

A stampede on a crowded bridge during the country’s annual Water Festival in Phnom Penh claimed more than 300 lives, the majority of which were reportedly women. An estimated 4 million had come to the capital for the festival, which marks the end of the rainy season. It was not immediately clear what triggered the stampede.

Airline Safety Debate Prominent in Holiday Travel

Passengers pass through security at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

As travelers geared up for some of heaviest travel of the year, the Transportation Safety Administration continued to defend its full-body scans and pat downs against a barrage of criticism over privacy. Despite the controversy, President Obama voiced his support the measures, and a recent CBS News poll found that four out of five Americans support the use of the scans.