N Korea-military drills

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea conducted combined landing drills and fired off artillery in simulated coastal defense operations off its eastern coast under the command of young leader Kim Jong-un, its state media said Tuesday.

The North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Kim Jong-un on Monday guided the landing and anti-landing drills of army and navy units of the Korean People's Army (KPA) and ordered artillery units to fire at an impromptu target.

"He issued an order for drills without any notice and finally examined the landing and anti-landing capabilities of the large combined units of the KPA Ground Force and the KPA Navy combined unit," the KCNA said in a report.

The anti-landing drill simulated "striking and wiping out landing enemies" with its multiple launch rocket system and artillery pieces, while the navy's landing operation involved high-speed boats, the report said.

A senior South Korean military official said the combined training took place in the eastern city of Wonsan. The exercise involved several multiple launch rocket systems and towed field guns to carry out live-fire drills, but no short-range missiles were launched.

"The North Korean military is seen having conducted a large-scale combined training attended by leader Kim Jong-un," the official said, asking for anonymity. "Landing forces and ground forces jointly carried out the combined exercise."

The latest move comes as Pyongyang has ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric against Seoul and Washington as the two allies earlier this month launched a two-month field training exercise called Foal Eagle to test combat readiness of the joint forces.

The impoverished communist country has issued threats of "an all-out war" and "pre-emptive nuclear strikes" after it was slapped with additional U.N. sanctions for its third nuclear test last month.

In the last few months, North Korea's military has conducted several airborne infiltration exercises with fighter jets and cargo aircraft as well as increased special forces training compared to the previous year, according to military officials in Seoul.

Amid high tension on the peninsula, South Korea's Navy on Monday separately carried out maritime drills in the Yellow Sea ahead of the third anniversary of the sinking of South Korean warship Cheonan, which was torpedoed by North Korea near the western maritime border three years ago. Forty-six sailors were killed in the incident.

South and North Korea technically remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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