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(3rd LD) Park: Terror attacks, hacking may occur anywhere

All Headlines 17:41 February 19, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS throughout with Park's comments; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye expressed concern Friday over possible terror attacks or a cyberattack as North Korea is allegedly preparing for attacks on South Korea.

Tensions have soared on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea's nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in recent weeks. South Korea has joined the United States and other regional powers in pushing for strengthening U.N. sanctions on North Korea for its latest provocations.

"New types of threats such as terror (attacks), cyberattacks or biological weapons could occur anywhere," Park said in a meeting with mayors and governors at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office.

She also renewed her calls for the establishment of a system to thwart possible terror attacks.

Earlier in the day, presidential spokesman Jeong Yeon-guk told reporters that South Korea is bracing for any possible terror attacks by North Korea.

South Korea believes that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered intensified preparations for terror attacks on South Korea, Kim Sung-woo, chief presidential press secretary, told reporters on Thursday.

Police said earlier this week that North Korean hackers sent massive amounts of spam emails to South Korean public organizations last month, the latest in a series of cyberattacks against the South in recent years.

Lee Chul-woo, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, said on local radio that North Korea could launch a cyberattack in March or April, citing the North's track record of waging such attacks against South Korea soon after its nuclear tests.

North Korea launched a cyberattack against South Korea in July 2009, two months after its second nuclear test. It also hacked South Korean media organizations in March 2013, a month after its third nuclear test.

North Korea carried out a fourth nuclear test last month, followed by a long-range rocket launch earlier this month.

North Korea also has a track record of staging terror attacks against South Korea in the past few decades, including the 1987 midair bombing of a Korean Air flight that killed all 115 people aboard.

Also Friday, presidential chief of staff Lee Byung-kee met with the parliamentary speaker and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties at the National Assembly to persuade them to pass an anti-terrorism bill.

The rare visit is the latest move in the push by the presidential office to win parliamentary blessing for a bill meant to better protect the lives of South Koreans from possible terror attacks.

entropy@yna.co.kr
(END)

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