A South Korean protestor holds up a placard reading 'No THAAD!' during a rally against the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system near the presidential Blue House in Seoul on July 31, 2017.

Jung Yeon-Je | Getty Images

A South Korean protestor holds up a placard reading ‘No THAAD!’ during a rally against the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system near the presidential Blue House in Seoul on July 31, 2017.

In the rural town of Seongju, thousands of police officers in riot gear swarmed some 400 protesters who since Wednesday night had been occupying a road leading to a former golf course where the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System is installed.

The officers also broke the windows of several cars the protesters were using to block the road and towed the vehicles away. A fire department official in Seongju said 38 people, including six police officers, were injured, none seriously. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.

Several U.S. military vehicles, including trucks carrying payloads covered in black sheets that appeared to be launchers, had been seen heading toward the site.

A THAAD battery normally consists of six launchers capable of firing up to 48 interceptor missiles, but only two launchers have been operational so far. South Korea’s Defense Ministry couldn’t immediately confirm when the four launchers added on Thursday will be operationally capable. Seongju residents and activists have worried over rumored health hazards and the possibility of being targeted in North Korean attacks.

In their meeting in Vladivostok, Moon and Abe agreed to cooperate on seeking tougher United Nations sanctions against North Korea and pledged to strengthen efforts to persuade Beijing and Moscow into cutting off oil supplies to the North, said Yoon Young-chan, Moon’s chief press secretary.

Moon earlier met with Putin and urged Moscow to support stronger sanctions, but Putin called for talks with North Korea, saying sanctions are not a solution. Putin also expressed concern that cutting off oil supplies would hurt regular North Koreans, Yoon said.

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