SEOUL, May 2 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said Tuesday that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which was deployed last week in southeast South Korea, is "operational."
USFK spokesperson Rob Manning said the USFK "confirms the THAAD system is operational."
The installed THAAD system has the ability to "intercept missiles" from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and "defend South Korea," according to the spokesperson.
On April 26, about 20 U.S. trucks and trailers carried part of THAAD elements, including radar, to a golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, South Gyeongsang province. The golf course was designated as the THAAD site.
The installed THAAD elements include two mobile launchers, an AN/TPY-2 radar and other equipments. A THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the radar and the fire and control unit.
THAAD in South Korea has been strongly opposed by regional countries, including China and Russia, as it breaks strategic balance in the region.
Following the unexpected deployment, protests were staged by the general public, residents and politicians.
Residents and peace activists, who had been on the guard right beside the entrance road, tussled with South Korean policemen on Sunday to block two U.S. oil tankers attempting to enter the golf course.
During the tussle, two residents from Seongju and Gimcheon were detained and two others injured. Gimcheon is a city bordering Seongju county, which is directly facing the super microwave-emitting radar.
On Monday, they blocked about 30 South Korean police buses attempting to pass the entrance road as they saw the higher-than-usual number of the buses as a sign of preparing for another attempt to allow additional THAAD elements to be transported to the golf course.
The residents and peace activists have continued to hold protest rallies at the Soseong-ri village every day, taking turns in standing sentry.
Three Won Buddhist monks started a hunger strike at the Gwanghwamun square in central Seoul, a day after the deployment of part of the THAAD elements.
The Won Buddhist holy ground is located near the THAAD site. Many religious figures, including priests, pastors and Buddhist monks, joined the protest rally against the THAAD system.