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  • South Korean protesters holds a sign saying

    South Korean protesters holds a sign saying "Hey USA, are you friends, or occupation troops while a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system arrives in Seongju, South Korea, April 26, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 September 2017

Around 8,000 riot-gear clad policemen moved to break up the protesters, resulting in the injury of at least 30 people, who were then taken to a nearby hospital.

Several dozen people were injured by police during protests against the deployment of a United States high tech missile defense system in South Korea on Thursday morning.

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In Seongju, a rural South Korean town south of Seoul, a group of over 400 protesters consisting of locals as well as activists, were swarmed by thousands of police officers in riot gear accompanying the missile systems. Seongju is the site selected for the deployment of a U.S. operated Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

Protesters attempted to block the entrance to the site, with some chaining themselves to the entering U.S. military trucks, and others attempting to break into the administration building.

Around 8,000 riot-gear clad policemen moved to break up the protesters, resulting in the injury of at least 30 people, who were then taken to a nearby hospital.

For months, local residents have protested the decision to install the THAAD battery in their area since the decision to do so was announced last year. When the first two THAAD launchers were moved to what used to be a golf course in Seongju were installed in April, protesters clashed with police.

Anti-war activists are opposed to the presence of a U.S.-base in the area, and many local residents are worried about the potential health effects of the X-band radar, which emits a harmful form of microwave.

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Although President Moon Jae-in had condemned the police violence that occurred during the earlier installation in his presidential campaign, he ordered the installation of the U.S. military system in July following the claimed launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea.

In spite of the protests and pressure from China, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon calld the THAAD deployment a “difficult yet inevitable decision,” in the interest of “national security.” Lee said that the government will try and address the health and security concerns of local residents in the area around the deployment.

South Korea's Defense Ministry has insisted that the installation is only “temporary,” citing the need to carry out further environmental impact assessments.

In addition to local opposition to the installation of THAAD, China has also continuously expressed that it sees the move as an effort to increase U.S. military presence in the area, and as a threat to its own security.

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