North Korea fires 2 ballistic missiles

Pyongyang answers the US-South Korea war games with missile test-fires

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Tuesday, Seoul said, Pyongyang’s second launch in three days and the first since South Korea and the United States began their largest joint military drills in five years.

Washington and Seoul have ramped up defense cooperation in the face of growing military and nuclear threats from the North, which has conducted a series of increasingly provocative banned weapons tests in recent months.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military had “detected two short-range ballistic missiles” fired between 7:41 a.m. and 7:51 a.m., which flew some 620 kilometers.

Japanese government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno said the missiles had not landed in his country’s waters, though Tokyo suspected North Korea might take “further provocative action.”

The launch comes just days after Pyongyang fired two “strategic cruise missiles” from a submarine in apparent protest over the US-South Korea exercises known as Freedom Shield.

The drills started Monday and will run for 10 days.

In a rare move, Seoul’s military this month revealed the two allies’ special forces were staging military exercises dubbed “Teak Knife” which involve simulating precision strikes on key facilities in North Korea.

The Freedom Shield exercises focus “involve wartime procedures to repel potential North Korean attacks and conduct a stabilization campaign in the North,” the South Korean military said previously.

North Korea views all such drills as rehearsals for invasion and has repeatedly warned it would take “overwhelming” action in response.

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