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(2nd LD) N. Korea fires projectile into sea for third day
SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired another short-range projectile into the East Sea on Monday, marking the third straight day of launches, South Korea's defense ministry said.

   "North Korea again launched a short-range projectile that appears to be a KN-02 (surface-to-surface) missile," said a ministry official. "We are closely watching the movements of the North's military in case of further launches."

   Monday's launch occurred between 11 a.m. and noon.

   North Korea has launched a total of five short-range projectiles in the past three days, including three on Saturday and one on Sunday.

   "We are currently trying to determine what the projectile was and the North's intentions (behind the launch)," said a military official. "It appears that the North is trying to renew military tensions on the Korean Peninsula."

   The projectile, which was fired from a mobile launcher off North Korea's east coast, flew about 120 kilometers in the northeasterly direction before falling into the sea, officials said.

   The other four projectiles are also thought to have had a range of about 120 kilometers.

   "Whether it's a test-firing or armed demonstration, North Korea should not engage in tension-creating acts," Kim Jang-soo, head of the national security office, was quoted as saying by presidential spokeswoman Kim Haing.

   The launch was immediately reported to President Park Geun-hye. The national security office and the defense ministry are closely monitoring the situation, the spokeswoman said.

   North Korea claimed the firing of projectiles is "a normal military exercise."

   "Conducting military drills to build up a strong deterrence capability is a legitimate right of any sovereign country," said the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which is in charge of inter-Korean relations.

   It added that South Korea and the United States were engaged in vicious anti-Pyongyang activities by making issue of the projectile launches.

   The launches come after the North has toned down its saber-rattling in the past few weeks after South Korea and the United States concluded the annual Foal Eagle military drills on April 30.

   yonngong@yna.co.kr
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