SEONGJU, South Korea-- Riot police clashed Tuesday with dozens of villagers and activists trying to block construction vehicles and equipment from entering the THAAD anti-missile base in southeastern South Korea.

Police removed about 100 protesters from a bridge leading to the THAAD base in the town of Seongju, about 300 km southeast of Seoul. The protesters have been blocking the bridge with a shipping container, a 1-ton truck and seven cars.

Police placed air mattresses under the bridge in case of a fall during the clash.

As of around 10:20 a.m., about 10 protesters were left on the bridge resisting police and shouting slogans denouncing police action. Protest organizers said a number of villagers were hurt during the clash.

About 50 vehicles were to enter the base for heating and water pipe construction.

The THAAD missile defense battery has been deployed in Seongju as part of efforts to cope better with growing missile threats from North Korea. But residents have strongly protested the deployment, citing health concerns involving electromagnetic waves emanating from its powerful radar.

The deployment has plagued South Korea for years as not only residents but also China protested the deployment. Beijing has argued that THAAD hurts its security interests, claiming the X-band radar can be used to spy on it.

Source: Yonhap News Agency