Spotlight: Violent push to deploy THAAD condemned by S. Korean residents, presidential candidates

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-26 14:20:16|Editor: Zhou Xin
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SEOUL, April 26 (Xinhua) -- South Korean residents and major presidential candidates condemned the violent push to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in their territory as about two weeks are left before the launch of a new government.

About 20 trucks and trailers carried the THAAD elements, including a radar and mobile launchers, early Wednesday to a golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, South Gyeongsang province.

The golf course in southeastern South Korea, which Lotte Group had owned, was exchanged for military land in late February. On March 6, two mobile launchers were transported to a U.S. military base in South Korea.

About 10 days earlier, the Seoul defense ministry said it would be physically hard to install one THAAD battery in the site before the May 9 presidential election due to the remaining procedures such as the foundation work and the environmental assessment.

Earlier in the day, tens of trucks of the U.S. forces entered the golf course despite attempts to block the entrance by local residents and peace activists who were violently dispersed by thousands of South Korean policemen.

One resident was conducted away, with some 10 others being wounded. Among them, six were taken to a nearby hospital.

Last Thursday, some of residents in the Soseong-ri, a tiny, peaceful village where about 160 people mostly in their 70s or 80s are living, were injured during the tussle as they sought to block construction equipments toward the THAAD site.

The hurried, violent push for the U.S. anti-missile system installation was aimed to politicize security issues during the presidential election campaign, said the statement released from locals and peace activists.

Conservative politicians here tended to welcome or even boost tensions with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as voters got more conservative in choosing next president amid the escalated tensions.

An early presidential election is scheduled for May 9 as former President Park Geun-hye was impeached on March 6 and taken into custody three weeks later.

The Soseong-ri villagers demanded an immediate removal of the THAAD, which was installed without any consent from residents and parliamentary discussions, vowing to continue their anti-THAAD rallies which have lasted since the announcement in July last year of the THAAD deployment decision.

An election campaign office for Moon Jae-in of the biggest Minjoo Party expressed strong regrets over the THAAD deployment in defiance of people's will and proper procedures, reiterating Moon's position that the final decision on THAAD must be made by next government, according to sufficient discussions and public consensus.

The front-runner's camp said the government and the defense ministry must make clear what roles they played in the THAAD deployment, urging the installation downplaying procedures to be stopped.

The spokesman for Ahn Cheol-soo of the center-right People's Party also expressed regrets, saying the installation should have been pushed in the absence of tussles with residents and according to procedures. Ahn is a runner-up to Moon in recent opinion polls.

The spokeswoman for Sim Sang-jung, a presidential candidate for the progressive Justice Party, said it was not acceptable to deploy THAAD elements while people's attentions are all being paid to the presidential campaigns.

She said her party would take all possible measures to stop the THAAD deployment in cooperation with Seongju residents, adding that the deployment push without any cause and benefit must be stopped immediately.