SEOUL, Apr. 24 (Reuters) - Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said the country will continue to build overwhelming and the strongest military power to protect its sovereignty and regional peace, the North's KCNA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Kim said a series of military exercises by the U.S. military in the region this year starting with live-fire drills conducted with the "South Korean puppet military gangsters" are driving the regional security environment into a dangerous turmoil.

"We will continue to build overwhelming and the most powerful military power to safeguard our sovereignty, security and regional peace," KCNA quoted her as saying.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries have been conducted a range of drills with greater scale and intensity in recent months under a pledge by the two countries' leaders to upgrade military readiness against North Korea's military threats.

About 100 military aircraft conducted two-week-long aerial drills this month, according to South Korea's military.

North Korea says U.S. military exercises are preparations for a nuclear war against it. Washington and Seoul say the drills are defensive in nature and regularly conducted to maintain readiness.

Photo from Reuters