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(LEAD) N. Korea test-fires 7 ground-to-air missiles into East Sea: JCS

2015/03/13 15:17

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has test-fired seven ground-to-air missiles into the East Sea in an apparent saber-rattling against the South Korean-U.S. joint military exercises, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Friday.

Thursday's missile launch came a day before Seoul and Washington wrapped up their combined annual war game Key Resolve, which Pyongyang denounces as a rehearsal for invasion of the communist country.

"The North Korean military fired multiple rounds of ground-to-air missiles into the East Sea from Seondok, South Hamkyong Province, at around 6-7 p.m. yesterday," the JCS said in a brief statement.

The JCS believes that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un guided the test-firing, a JCS officer said on condition of anonymity.

"The mssiles fired were presumed to SA-2 and SA-3 types that have a range of dozens of kilometers as well as a SA-5 one that flew some 200 kilometers," the officer said, adding it was the first time for the North to test-fire the SA-5 missile.

Noting that the firing "appears to be the North's provocations in opposition to the joint exercises," the JCS said the South Korean military "has strengthened the readiness posture and plans to solidify the alliance through the exercises."

   South Korea and the U.S. kicked off their joint annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises on March 2 as part of efforts to improve the combined forces' operation and combat capabilities to deter threats from the communist country.

The war game Key Resolve ended Friday, while the field training drill Foal Eagle will run until April 24.

No North Korean media has reported the test-firing, the North's fifth missile launch this year.

On the first day of the Seoul-Washington exercises, Pyongyang fired two short-range Scud-C type missiles. In February, it also fired five short-range missiles into the East Sea just two days after the launch of anti-ship missiles under the guidance of leader Kim Jong-un.

Repeating its long-held claims that the exercises are "dress rehearsals" for a northward invasion with nuclear weapons, the North has issued near-daily threats of harsh retaliation against "hostile" forces.

But the allies have stressed the exercises have been staged on a regular basis and they are defensive in nature, aimed solely at bolstering readiness against a possible invasion by North Korea.



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