Friday, December 03, 2010

N. Korea deploys more multiple-launch rockets

SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has added more multiple-launch rockets capable of hitting the South Korean capital, a military source said Friday, amid heightened tensions over the North's fatal artillery attack on a South Korean island.

The North's rockets and long-range artillery, capable of raining down shells on Seoul, which lies about 50 kilometers from the heavily armed border, are the biggest defense concern for South Korea.

"North Korea has recently increased the number of its multiple-launch rockets by 100 pieces to some 5,200," the source said on the condition of anonymity. "They can mount a concentrated attack from their bases on Seoul and its neighboring areas."

With an effective shooting range of 60km, parts of the multiple-launch rocket system can fire 12 to 22 five-meter-long rockets, according to the source.

The source didn't say whether the new multiple-launch rockets were deployed near the border with South Korea. Seoul and its neighboring areas are home to nearly half of the South's 50-million population.

North Korea is also believed to have deployed surface-to-air SA-2 missiles and SA-5 missiles near the border.

Military tensions on the Korean Peninsula have spiked since North Korea bombarded the South's Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23 near the tense Yellow Sea border. Two civilians and two marines were killed by the North's surprise artillery attack, marking the first attack on a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War.

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