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Thursday, September 07, 2017, 11:57
ROK deploys THAAD amid clashes with protesters
By Reuters
Thursday, September 07, 2017, 11:57 By Reuters

Residents and protesters of the Republic of Korea (ROK) clash with police officers before the arrival of US missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD in Seongju, ROK, Sept 7, 2017. (LEE SANG-HAK / YONHAP VIA AP)

SEOUL - Protesters clashed with thousands of police at a village of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Thursday as Seoul deployed the four remaining launchers of the US anti-missile THAAD system designed to protect against mounting threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The ROK's defence ministry confirmed on Wednesday the launchers would be installed on a former golf course near Seongju City some 217 km south of Seoul. Two launchers and a powerful radar are already in place at the site as part of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system.

Early on Monday, around 8,000 ROK police gathered in the village of Soseong-ri, along the only road that leads up to the golf course, to break up a blockade of around 300 villagers and civic groups opposed to THAAD.

US military vehicle move as ROK police officers try to block residents and protesters who oppose a plan to deploy an advanced US missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, in Seongju, ROK, Sept 7, 2017. (LEE SANG-HAK / YONHAP VIA AP)

Some 38 protesters were wounded in tussles with police, with 21 sent to hospital, according to a Seongju Fire Station official. None of the injuries were life-threatening, said Kim Jin-hoon.

The Soseong-ri residents say they do not have a political motive but are against the deployment of THAAD as their lives have been disrupted by the dozens of military helicopters, buses, trucks that travel through the small melon-farming town of 80 residents.

The decision to deploy THAAD, designed to shoot down short- to medium-range missiles mid-flight, has drawn strong objections from China. It believes the system's radar could be used to look deeply into its territory and will upset the regional security balance.

ROK's defence ministry has said the deployment is necessary due to the imminent threat from the DPRK, which has launched numerous missiles since ROK's President Moon Jae-in took office in early May.

Pyongyang also conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday, prompting vehement reprimands from neighbouring Japan and the United States.

According to a United Nations draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday, the United States wants the United Nations to impose an oil embargo on the DPRK, ban the country's exports of textiles and the hiring of DPRK's labourers as part of new sanctions on the DPRK.

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