Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 1 News List

N Korea launches four short-range missiles off coast

BOLSTER DEFENSEA South Korean defense ministry spokesman said the missiles appeared to be ground-to-ship missiles, which have a 140km range

AFP , SEOUL

North Korea yesterday fired four short-range missile off its east coast, South Korean military officials said.

The first three were launched between 5:20pm and 7:50pm, with the first two fired from a base near the eastern port of Wonsan and the third from Sinsang-ri, the defense ministry said. The fourth was fired at 9:20pm.

The hardline communist state has responded defiantly to UN condemnation of its long-range rocket launch on April 5 and its May 25 nuclear test, vowing to bolster its defenses.

“They appear to be ground-to-ship missiles, which were launched into the East Sea [Sea of Japan],” a ministry spokesman said speaking of the first two launches. “We have no detailed information now, but there have been preparations for missile launches in the region.”

Yonhap news agency said the third one was also a ground-to-ship missile.

The North issued a fresh warning to Japan on Wednesday to stay clear of some coastal areas during military exercises until July 11.

According to Japan’s Coast Guard, Pyongyang issued navigation bans for 10 areas in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, citing “military gunfire and bombardment training.”

South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, quoting an intelligence source, said the North in the coming days was likely to fire a series of short-range missiles.

Apart from ground-to-ship weapons with a range of 140km, it said these would likely include Scud-B missiles with a range of 340km.

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