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(2nd LD) N. Korea test-fires short-range missiles

All Headlines 23:01 December 19, 2011

(ATTN: UPDATES the number of missiles fired in paras 1-2)

SEOUL, Dec. 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea test-fired two short-range missiles off its east coast on Monday, a Seoul official said, the day when the country announced the death of leader Kim Jong-il.

The official said, however, that he does not think the firing has anything to do with the leader's death.

"The missiles are estimated to have a range of about 120 kilometers," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "We believe the North test-fired the missiles to try to improve its capabilities and range."

Asked if the North might have tried to provoke the South regardless of Kim's death, the official said, "We don't see this as more than test-firing."

South Korea's military believes that the North since last year has been test-firing KN-06 missiles, which are an improvement over earlier ground-to-ground missiles, KN-01 and KN-02, before deploying them.

The North's state television said at noon that the 69-year-old leader died of a heart attack on Saturday during a train trip.


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