N Korea attacks 'hostile' US sanctions

SEOUL - North Korea has described new sanctions imposed in response to a major cyber-attack against Sony Pictures as part of groundless and hostile US policy.

The US placed sanctions on three North Korean organisations and 10 individuals, after the FBI blamed Pyongyang for the cyber-attack.

North Korea has denied involvement but has praised the attack on Sony.

It came as Sony was about to release The Interview, which portrays a plan to assassinate North Korea's leader.

Sony initially cancelled plans to show the film, before deciding to release it to a limited number of cinemas and online.

The fresh US sanctions imposed on Friday are believed to be the first time the US has moved to punish any country for cyber-attacks on a US company.

Announcing them, the US said the apparent effort to stifle the movie release was part of the justification for the new restrictions, though the targets of the sanctions were not directly involved.

In response, the North's state-run KCNA news agency on Sunday quoted its foreign ministry spokesman as saying: "The policy persistently pursued by the US to stifle the DPRK [North Korea], groundlessly stirring up bad blood towards it, would only harden its will and resolution to defend the sovereignty of the country.

"The persistent and unilateral action taken by the White House to slap 'sanctions' against the DPRK patently proves that it is still not away from inveterate repugnancy and hostility toward the DPRK."

North Korea has blamed the US for lengthy internet outages in the country last week.

US sanctions are already in place over North Korea's nuclear programme.

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