Soviet landing ship seen headed for the Kuriles

A Soviet landing with six vehicles and two small boats on its deck sailed into the North Pacific from the Sea of Japan through a strait separating Japan's main islands, Honshu and Hokkaido, the Defense Agency reported Monday. The 3, 400-ton Alligator-class vessel was believed to be heading toward the Kurile islands, claimed by Japan but occupied by the Soviet Union since World War II, agency sources said.

The Soviet Union started to build up its forces on three of the islands two years ago and now has a division of about 10,000 troops here. The nearest island is about two miles from mainland Japan.

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