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South Korea: North Korea builds up special forces

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By Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea has faster, more powerful tanks prowling the world's most heavily armed border and 200,000 special forces poised to carry out assassinations and cause havoc in South Korea, a major military review said Thursday.

Seoul's Defense Ministry report, released every two years, signals that the North's military threat has expanded. It comes as President Lee Myung-bak's administration scrambles to respond to criticism that it was unprepared for a Nov. 23 North Korean artillery attack on a front-line island that killed four people.

That attack, along with an alleged North Korean torpedoing of a warship in March, has prompted South Korea to define the North in the defense document as its "enemy," a stronger description than in 2008 when the North was only called a "direct and serious threat."

South Korean defense documents stopped referring to North Korea as "the main enemy" — a constant subject of North Korean criticism — in 2004 amid then-warming ties. The North's state media angrily reacted to the new reference later Thursday, calling it a "grave provocation" that could trigger war.


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