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DPRK threatens to shoot airplanes

THE Democratic People's Republic of Korea warned yesterday that it might shoot down Republic of Korea airliners flying near its territory during United States-ROK military drills next week.

"Security cannot be guaranteed for ROK civil airplanes flying through the territorial air of our side and its vicinity ... above the East Sea of Korea (Sea of Japan) in particular, while the military exercises are under way," the DPRKs KCNA news agency quoted a statement from a government official as saying.

Officials from ROK's two major airlines, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, said they would alter certain routes to move planes further away from the DPRK, Yonhap news agency said.

The ROK and the United States have held the military drills for years without major incident.

The DPRK regularly criticizes the annual exercises as "a prelude to invasion and nuclear war." The drills will run from March 9 to 20.

The DPRK has raised tensions recently by preparing to test-launch its longest-range missile.

The Taepodong-2 missile is designed to carry a weapon to as far as Alaska, but has never flown successfully.


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