North Korea has announced the promotion of several key military officials to coincide with the birthday of late leader Kim Jong-il.

Kim Rak-gyom, the commander of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Strategic Rocket Force Command, was promoted to colonel general at the order of the country's current leader Kim Jong-un, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported late Saturday, according to AFP news agency.

The unit is in charge of the country's mid- and long-range missiles programme.

Dozens of other senior military officials were also promoted to the rank of lieutenant general and major general, the KCNA said. The latest round of military promotions - often announced on key political anniversaries - came as the North celebrated Jong-Il's birthday on Sunday. 

"Everybody, let's rally around the party centre led by the great leader Kim Jong-un and robustly fight... to complete the revolution!" the ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-Nam said in a speech as thousands of party and military officials convened in the capital Pyongyang to pledge loyalty to Jong-un, television footage showed. 

The country marks the birthdays of both late leaders - Jong-il's on February 16 and his father Kim Il-sung's on April 15 - as major national holidays.

Jong-un, as well as top army and party cadres, also visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in the capital to pay tribute to the embalmed bodies of his father and grandfather, the KCNA said.

The Kim family has ruled the communist state for more than six decades. Jong-il, who died of a heart attack in December 2011, was succeeded by his son Jong-un.

Source: AFP