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South Korean protesters block entrance to THAAD installation site

South Korean protesters hold placards during a rally against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system near the US embassy in Seoul on April 28, 2017. (AFP photo)

Protests against a US-made missile system in South Korea have escalated as people block the main entrance to the installation site.

During a demonstration on Saturday in Soseong-ri village in eastern South Korea, protesters erected roadblocks at the entrance to the military base where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system is being installed.

The protesters said they sought to block the delivery of arms supply to the area by South Korea’s Defense Ministry. Reports on Thursday said the ministry had concealed military equipment in food supplies bound for the site to evade protesters.

“We are checking to block further equipment like more oil supplies and other vehicles going into the camp,” said a protester, adding that the demonstration would continue until the government stopped the installation process of THAAD.

The protesters said the deployment would only increase the arms race on the Korean Peninsula.

Another protester said "after having so many weapons already, the Korean Peninsula still is under tension." "I don’t think deploying the THAAD system will help solving the conflict. It will only increase the arms race."

The installation of THAAD began last month amid increasing tensions over North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear tests. China and Russia have criticized the deployment of THAAD, saying it would significantly affect the balance of power in the region and would lead to more instability. Washington and Seoul had agreed on the installation in the summer of 2016.

The anti-THAAD movement has also gained popularity among some opposition politicians who say that South Korea could be protected militarily through conventional weapons. Seoul defends THAAD, saying it is necessary to prevent any missile threat from North Korea.

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