Asia

North Korea 'test-fires missiles'

North Korea test fires missiles, file photo from 2009 Image copyright AFP
Image caption North Korea frequently tests missiles at times of heightened tensions with South Korea

North Korea has test-fired four short-range missiles into the sea off its west coast, say South Korean military officials.

In a statement, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the missiles had a range of about 140km (87 miles).

They were fired from Dongchang-ri in the north of the country on Friday afternoon local time, it said.

The North often conducts missile tests in protest at US-South Korean military drills, one of which is ongoing.

The US and South Korea say the annual exercises are for defence training purposes, but Pyongyang calls them a rehearsal for invasion. They are always a trigger for a surge in tensions between the two Koreas.

When a drill began in March, the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles, and on 13 March it fired seven ground-to-air missiles into the sea to coincide with the end of one part of the drill, Operation Key Resolve.

The current drill, Foal Eagle, is continuing.

A JCS spokesman said Friday's test "appeared to have been supervised by Kim Jong-Un", the AFP news agency reports.

The two Koreas are technically still at war as the 1950-53 conflict ended with a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

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