Dozens of people were injured in clashes between protesters and police in South Korea on Thursday as the US military deployed 4 more Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile launchers at a southern town of Seongju in response to the so-called North Korea threat.
On Wednesday, the South Korean Defense Ministry announced that 4 more THAAD missile defense launchers will be deployed on a former golf course near Seongju in about 217 km south of Seoul where 2 launhers and a radar are already installed. The announcement followed North Korea’s sixth nuclear test last weekend.
Seul deployed about 8,000 police to break up a blockade of local villagers and civic groups opposed to THAAD. The blockaed had been installed by about 400 protesters near the village of Soseong-ri at the only road leading to the deployment site.
Some 38 protesters were wounded in clashes with the police, according to reports. Police officers also broke the windows of several cars using to block the road and towed the vehicles away.
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.
Residents of Soseong-ri believe the deployment of the THAAD system will militarize the area and disrupt their day-to-day life. They also fear that the town will become a target of North Korean attacks in case of the conflict.
The THAAD deployment has also drawn sharp condemnation from China. Beijing believes this move will only further destabilize the region.
At the same time, some experts believe that the US is using tensions with North Korea in order to boost its military presence in the area and to expand its efforts aimed at countering the Chinese influence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.