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North Korea warns of 'beheading operation' ahead of South's war games

The North Korean military has threatened widescale attacks on South Korea and US bases in the event of hostile actions. The threats come ahead of the largest annual US-South Korea war games, according to Seoul.

Pyongyang on Tuesday warned Seoul and Washington of an expansive retaliation against any attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or invade the communist nation.

"All the powerful strategic and tactical strike means of our revolutionary armed forces will go into preemptive and just operation to beat back the enemy forces to the last man if there is a slight sign of their special operation forces and equipment moving to carry out the so-called 'beheading operation' and 'high-density strike,'" said the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army in a statement carried by state media.

According to Pyongyang, the joint military exercises between South Korea and the US are annual preparations for an overt war.

The military's statement added that its first target would be Seoul's presidential Blue House, saying it is "the center for hatching plots for confrontation with the fellow countrymen in the north, and reactionary ruling machines."

It added that it would also target American bases in the Asia-Pacific and mainland US.

North Korea has "the most powerful and ultra-modern strike means" in the world capable of "dealing fatal blows at the US mainland any moment and in any place," the statement noted.

Seoul and Washington maintain that the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle war games are for defense purposes

Seoul and Washington maintain that the Key Resolve/Foal Eagle war games are for defense purposes

The threats, which Pyongyang often makes ahead of US-South Korea war games, comes as Seoul's defense ministry announced it would hold its largest annual military exercises with American troops this year, although it has not confirmed a date.

In February, South Korea suspended operations at a jointly-run industrial park with North Korea following the latter's rocket launch, which Pyongyang claimed was to place a satellite in orbit.

The international community largely agreed the move was an attempt to test the communist nation's ability to launch long-range rockets.

The UN Security Council is considering tougher sanctions to punish North Korea over the rocket launch and a nuclear bomb test in January.

The Korean Peninsula was divided by the Korean Demilitarized Zone - one of the most militarized borders on the planet, despite the name - following a truce in 1953. The two sides never signed a full peace deal.

ls/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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