SEOUL — Deploying a mixture of high-tech weaponry and high-kicking martial arts, an elite South Korean security force demonstrated Monday how it will protect dozens of world leaders at an upcoming Seoul summit.
The Presidential Security Service, whose normal job is to guard Seoul's leader, will also oversee the safety of about 40 heads of state or government during the March 26-27 Nuclear Security Summit.
At the presidential residence known as the Blue House, some 70 officers staged a demonstration involving martial arts, sub-machineguns, ropes, vehicles and even a net.
Blank shots were fired to block a mock suicide bomb attack, and armed officers rappelled from the top of a building to rehearse the rescue of a leader as senior police and army officers looked on.
The summit will be the largest ever staged by the country in terms of the number of global leaders expected. Organisers say US President Barack Obama has confirmed his attendance but have not yet released names of other leaders.
Some 40,000 officers will be deployed, with a security barricade encircling the venue, while some areas including hotels to be used by world leaders will be declared off-limits to protesters.
Officials said troops and security authorities would be on top alert to guard against any disruptions by North Korea, international terrorists or violent protesters.
The North last week blasted the summit as an "unsavoury burlesque" intended to justify an atomic attack by South Korea and its US ally.
"Our military is maintaining a strengthened security posture in preparation for potential military and non-military provocations by North Korea," said Eo Cheong-Soo, chief of the presidential security service.
"We are also making thorough preparations to guard the meeting against international terror groups," he said as his team displayed a range of cutting edge security equipment such as poison and radiation detectors.
The summit, a follow-up to one in Washington in 2010, will focus on ways to safeguard atomic material worldwide and prevent acts of nuclear terrorism.
Seoul officials say the North's nuclear programme is not on the agenda but the summit may build momentum towards denuclearisation.
"Despite the (North's) latest spate of rhetoric, there has been no particular movement by North Korean troops, but we must be ready as provocations are always possible," army Lieutenant-General Shin Hyun-Don told AFP.
Seoul accused Pyonguang of torpedoing a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 lives in March 2010. The North denied the charge but shelled a border island, killing four South Koreans, in November that year.
Police also voiced concern about potential attacks by the North ahead of a G20 summit in Seoul in 2010, but the event passed without incident.
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