North Korea fires short-range missiles in apparent exercise

Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:57pm EST
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By Choonsik Yoo

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea fired four short-range missiles over the sea off its eastern coast on Thursday, a media official at South Korea's Defence Ministry said, but provided no information as to the purpose of the firing.

North Korea fired the missiles at 5:42 p.m. local time (0342 ET) from a mountain site just north of the border with South Korea, the official said.

Launches by the North of short-range missiles are not uncommon as part of military exercises.

The firing came days after the beginning of annual U.S. and South Korean joint military exercises, which the North routinely denounces as a preparation for war.

The North was angered this month when a nuclear-capable U.S. B-52 bomber made a sortie over South Korea, though the flight did not trigger a sharp escalation of military tension.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the missiles fired on Thursday were believed to be Scud short-range missiles, with a range of about 200 km (125 miles), which means they can hit targets in South Korea, but can not reach Japan.

Also on Thursday, the South's YTN news channel reported that North Korea fired four missiles with an estimated range of 150-160 km on February 21.

In Washington, Army Colonel Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said U.S. forces had monitored the North Korean launch of several Scud missiles.   Continued...