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United States flies strategic bombers over Korean peninsula

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UK draws up battle plan in case of North Korea war

Hackers linked to North Korea reportedly targeted US electric power companies, according to a leading cybersecurity firm.

The South Korean military said this was part of a regular exercise to bolster military defenses and also to display the alliance between the United States and South Korea.

The information, that included wartime contingency plans drawn up by the US and South Korea, was from the country's defence ministry, according to Rhee Cheol-hee, a South Korean lawmaker.

South Korean and US government officials have been raising their guard against more North Korean provocations with the approach of the 72nd anniversary of the founding of North Korea's ruling party, which fell on Tuesday.

The hackers broke into the computer networks of South Korea's defense ministry previous year and pilfered classified military documents that detailed military operations in case war broke out on the Korean peninsula, South Korea's state news agency Yonhap reported.

An unusually aggressive approach to the North by Trump, which has included rhetoric hinting at US strikes and threatening the destruction of North Korea's leadership, has some South Koreans fearful that war is closer than at any time since the Korean War ended in 1953 in a shaky cease-fire, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war.

Private electric companies in the U.S. were targeted by suspected North Korean hackers last month. Pyongyang belatedly responded by relocating some of its military aircraft to its east coast, the National Intelligence Service then said.

The drills were conducted not long after Lee broke the news about the alleged cyberattacks to reporters.

The U.S. bombers took off from the Andersen Air Force base in Guam, the U.S. Pacific territory that North Korea singled out as a possible target for a missile strike over the summer, as President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un engaged in bombastic rhetoric and brinkmanship. Given that set of circumstances, the Kim regime would likely chose to use its nuclear weapons.

The South's Yonhap news agency quoted Lee as saying that 235 gigabytes of military documents were taken.

The training was part of a programme of "extended deterrence" against North Korea, it added.

Information on South Korea's special forces was also reportedly accessed, as well as important details on significant power plants and military facilities in the South.

Commenting on the news is Chris Doman, security researcher at AlienVault, who is investigating hacking groups in North Korea.

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