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Korean rift grows: Seoul says North test-fired short-range projectile

world Updated: Mar 29, 2016 19:51 IST
North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016. (Reuters)

North Korea test-fired a short-range missile or rocket near its east coast on Tuesday, South Korea’s military said, the latest in a series of launches amid rising tension on the divided peninsula.

The North fired the “short-range projectile” near the eastern city of Wonsan around 5.40pm (0840 GMT) which flew about 200 km to the country’s northeast, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and standing ready for any situations,” the statement said.

The projectile appears to have fallen on land unlike previous tests when missiles were fired into the sea, Seoul’s defence ministry spokesperson told AFP.

It was the third such launch by the North in two weeks, as the isolated state steps up its military threats to protest ongoing Seoul-Washington joint army drills being held south of the border.

The North last Monday fired five short-range rockets or missiles into the sea off the east coast, days after test-firing two medium-range missiles.

The latest launch comes ahead of trilateral talks between the leaders of the US, Japan and the South aimed at discussing the growing threat of the nuclear-armed North.

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama will meet his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-Hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of a nuclear security forum in Washington.

Military tensions have soared on the peninsula since Pyongyang carried out its fourth atomic test in January, followed a month later by a long-range rocket launch widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

The UN Security Council responded earlier this month by slapping its toughest-ever sanctions on the North.

Seoul and Washington started their largest-ever joint military drills on March 7. Since then the North has issued a series of threats, including warnings of nuclear attacks against the South and US.