Guam residents fear attack after North Korea statements

Residents of the tiny Pacific island of Guam say they’re afraid of being caught in the middle of escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea after Pyongyang announced it was examining plans for attacking the strategically important U.S. territory.

Though local officials downplayed any threat,?people who live and work on the island, which serves as a launching pad for the U.S. military, said Wednesday they could no longer shrug off the idea of being a potential target.

“I’m a little worried, a little panicked. Is this really going to happen?” said Cecil Chugrad, a 37-year-old bus driver for a tour bus company in Guam. “If it’s just me, I don’t mind, but I have to worry about my son. I feel like moving (out of Guam) now.”

Guam is used to the threats from North Korea but advances in the country’s nuclear program paired with fiery rhetoric from President Donald Trump has raised the already high animosity and heightened worries that a miscalculation might spark conflict between the nuclear-armed nations.

Reports suggested North Korea mastered a technological hurdle needed to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile. The advances were detailed in an official Japanese assessment and later a Washington Post story that cited U.S. intelligence officials and a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency report.

In response, Trump on Tuesday threatened the communist country “with fire and fury.” On Wednesday, the North Korean army said in a statement that it was studying a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles.

While it is extremely unlikely that Pyongyang would risk the assured annihilation of its revered leadership with a pre-emptive attack on U.S. citizens, some residents are concerned.

“If anything happens, we all got to be ready, be prepared, and pray to God that it doesn’t happen,” Daisy Mendiola, 56, said after finishing lunch with her family at a restaurant near Hagatna. “Everyone’s…

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