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N Korea launches wartime alert

Kim Jong-II, head of the communist country, issued an order to that effect hours before the UNSC condemned North Korea missile test.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2006 10:55 IST

North Korea has launched a wartime alert, putting its armed forces and nationals in a state of a war mobilisation, an unconfirmed news report said on Wednesday.

Kim Jong-II, head of the communist country, issued an order to that effect hours before the United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's missile tests last week, said the Joongang daily, quoting an unnamed government source.

Government officials were unable to be reached for confirmation early on Wednesday.

North Korean soldiers on leave were told to return to their barracks, camouflage nettings were being draped on military vehicles and weapons, and people were prohibited from entering the countryside, the source said.

The alert was not issued publicly but spread quietly through military and civilian emergency networks, the daily said. North Korea announced a war mobilization in 1993 at the height of a standoff with the United States over its nuclear weapons programme.

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun was due to hold a cabinet meeting later on Wednesday to discuss security in the aftermath of the UN resolution. The cabinet meeting was arranged before the report of the wartime alert.

The resolution, the first UN action against North Korea since 1993, requires nations to prevent the shipment of equipment and technology for the North's missile or weapons of mass destruction programmes.

But the isolated communist state rejected what it called the "brigandish" resolution and vowed to bolster its defences, saying the situation had deteriorated due to the hostile policy of the United States.