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N Korea readies for major military parade

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SEOUL (AFP): North Korea is preparing its largest ever military parade involving thousands of soldiers, tanks and missile launchers as the country gears up for this week's major political meeting, a report said Sunday.

About 10,000 soldiers have been deployed to Mirim air base near Pyongyang since July to practice parades for a "large-scale national ceremony", Yonhap news agency said, citing several unnamed sources in communist North Korea.

It was not clear when the parade, likely to take place in Pyongyang, would be.

"The weapons deployed for the parade include military cars equipped with mobile short- and mid-range missile launchers, as well as multiple-rocket launchers, self-propelled artillery and tanks," said a source quoted by Yonhap.

And considering the scale of preparations, the event will likely be the country's "largest ever" military ceremony, said another source quoted by Yonhap.

South Korea's defence ministry said last month it had detected a "massive" deployment of North Korean troops, including a large number of soldiers, armoured vehicles and artillery, near the capital.

The North, with 1.2 million standing troops, has often celebrated major political anniversaries with massive military displays featuring thousands of goose-stepping troops and dozens of missiles and other weapons.

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