North Korea 'fires multiple suspected cruise missiles'

North Korea 'fires multiple suspected cruise missiles'

Agency News

North Korea has fired a salvo of suspected cruise missiles towards the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea's military, in a major show of force on the eve of a key state anniversary in the North and parliamentary elections in the South.

The back-to-back launches from the ground and air on Tuesday were the most high-profile among a series of weapon tests that North Korea has conducted recently amid stalled nuclear talks and outside worries about a possible coronavirus outbreak in the country.

North Korean troops based in the eastern coastal city of Munchon in Kangwon province first launched several projectiles - presumed to be cruise missiles - on Tuesday morning, South Korea's joint chiefs of staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The weapons flew more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) off the North's east coast, the JCS said. If confirmed, it would be North Korea's first cruise missile launch since June 2017, said a South Korean defence official, who spoke to The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.

North Korea also flew multiple Sukhoi-variant and MiG fighter jets above the eastern coastal city of Wonsan, which fired multiple air-to-ground rockets, a spokesman for the South Korean military told AFP.

"South Korea and US intelligence authorities are closely analysing related issues," the JCS statement said.

The launches came a day before North Korea marks the 108th birthday of its late founder, Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un. They also came a day ahead of South Korean parliamentary elections.