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(2nd LD) N. Korea fires two short-range missiles into East Sea

All Headlines 09:15 March 10, 2016

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES throughout)

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the East Sea on Thursday in a show of protest against the ongoing joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The ballistic missiles were fired at around 5:20 a.m. from the central province of North Hwanghae bordering South Korea, according to the JCS.

The pair flew some 500 kilometers before falling into waters off the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, according to the JCS.

Sources said the fired missiles appear to be a type of Scud. This marks the first time that the North has launched ballistic missiles this year.

"The military is keeping close tabs on the situation and stands ready to deal with any North Korean provocations," the JCS also noted.

One week ago, the communist country fired six short-range rockets into the East Sea from what it said was a new 300-millimeter-caliber multiple rocket launcher.

The latest military provocation, which came along with weeks of provocative rhetoric toward Seoul and Washington, reflect Pyongyang's frustration with the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military exercises and retaliatory actions taken by Seoul and its allies in response to the North's recent nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Seoul and Washington kicked off the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills for a weeks-long run on Monday, mobilizing the largest number of South Korean and American troops and military assets ever.

The North has a record of reacting with military provocations to the springtime alliance exercises, which they denounce as a rehearsal for a war.

A day earlier, the North threatened to turn the allies' military installations into a "sea of fire" in a commentary published by its official Korean Central News Agency.

The country claimed that it has miniaturized nuclear warheads that could be mounted onto ballistic missiles, but South Korea's defense ministry said the claim is not true.

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