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North Korea Says B-52 Training Sortie Imperils Family Reunions

SEOUL - A U.S. B-52 bomber sortie over South Korea has endangered plans for reunions between families from the North and South of the country and risks triggering a further escalation of military tensions, North Korea said on Thursday.

North Korea said a flight by the nuclear-capable B-52 took place off the west coast of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday, although the U.S. military was not immediately available for comment.

A South Korean military source told the Yonhap news agency that the flight was a training sortie involving a single aircraft. The North's National Defence Commission, the country's top military body, said in a statement read on state television, that it was a rehearsal for a nuclear attack.

"At the time when the agreement was made on reunions of separated families and relatives at Panmunjom, a formation of U.S. B-52 strategic bombers from Guam was carrying out nuclear strike practices all day over Korea's west sea, aiming at us," a spokesman for the Commission was quoted as saying.

In a rare confidence-building move, the two Koreas agreed on Wednesday, during talks at the border village of Panmunjom, to allow families still divided by the 1950-53 Korean War to meet for five days in late February for the first time since 2010.

Reuters