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Missiles fired in protest at military exercises

The South Korean armys rocket launchers fire live rounds during an exercise against possible attacks from North Korea. Picture: AP

The South Korean armys rocket launchers fire live rounds during an exercise against possible attacks from North Korea. Picture: AP

NORTH Korea fired two short-range missiles into the sea yesterday for the second time in less than a week, amid ongoing annual military exercises between Seoul and Washington, South Korean officials said.

The launches appear to be a continuation of North Korea’s protest against the drills it calls a preparation for an attack, and to test the country’s weapons systems. They followed South Korea’s announcement that North Korea last Thursday fired four short-range missiles with a range of about 125 miles into the North’s eastern waters.

North Korea routinely test-fires short-range missiles and outside analysts say the recent launches were not expected to raise tensions, as was the case last spring when North Korea repeatedly threatened to launch nuclear wars after its third nuclear test in February last year. Recently, North Korea has pushed for improved ties with South Korea and taken conciliatory gestures, including rare reunions of Korean War-divided families last month.

South Korea is trying to confirm exactly what North Korea fired, based on the speed and trajectory of the projectiles, but an initial investigation showed they were missiles, suspected to be Scud-series, a Defence Ministry official said. He said the North Korean missiles flew past a South Korean air defence identification zone and landed in the waters below the Japanese defence zone.

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok yesterday told reporters the launches were made without prior notice. “North Korea is doing an act of double standard by taking a peace offensive ostensibly, but later launching reckless provocative acts,” he said.

 

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