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(2nd LD) N.K. leader warns Seoul's gov't organizations will be destroyed

2016/03/25 09:32

(ATTN: REWRITES lead; ADDS more info in paras 4, 10-12)

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called on the military to be ready to strike South Korea's presidential office and government bodies, the North's state media said Friday.

The North's leader said that the North's military should be ready to "ruthlessly" destroy Seoul's government bodies during his inspection of long-range artillery exercises, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"All soldiers should be nurtured into warriors full of combat spirit and be on high alert," Kim was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

The report did not reveal when and where the drills took place.

The North's warning is the latest in a series of bellicose rhetoric in response to tougher U.N. sanctions on the North and ongoing joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.

The North said Wednesday that it is ready to turn President Park Geun-hye and her office into "a sea of flames and ashes," with its large-caliber multiple rocket launching system.

It said Thursday that it has successfully conducted a solid-fuel rocket engine test, boosting its ballistic rocket capabilities to hit its enemies.

Last week, the North launched two medium-range ballistic missiles, with one believed to have blown up mid-flight.

It also warned that it plans to conduct nuclear warhead and ballistic missile tests "in a short time," sparking speculation that it may carry out its fifth nuclear test and missile provocations. The North conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013, followed by its fourth one in January.

According to the KCNA, the North's largest-ever artillery drills were aimed at displaying the strength of the North's army.

"The firing drill of artillery pieces ... (aims to) demonstrate the tremendous might of (the North's) army to inflict the most miserable doom upon traitor Park Geun-hye," Pak Yong-sik, the minister of the People's Armed Forces, said in a speech before the drills.

On Thursday, President Park ordered the government to raise the level of vigilance across the country and called on the military to be fully prepared to aggressively cope with North Korea's reckless provocations.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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