N Korea test-fires 16 rockets into sea

March 24, 2014 - 8:50:16 am

SEOUL: North Korea test-fired 16 short-range rockets into the sea yesterday, the South’s military said — the latest of dozens launched in recent weeks in apparent protest at joint drills between Seoul and Washington. The launches took place between about 1am (1600 GMT on Saturday) and 2:30am off the North’s east coast, a South Korean defence ministry spokesman said.

“They were rockets with a range of about 60km,” he said, adding the projectiles were old versions of Russian-made, unguided Frog rockets.  It is not unusual for Pyongyang to carry out such tests but there has been a spate of them in recent weeks. About 70 short-range rockets have been fired into the sea this month, including 30 on Saturday.

Analysts say the launches are an expression of Pyongyang’s anger at ongoing annual South Korean-US military drills, which run until next month. The North has habitually criticised the exercises, along with other military drills staged south of the border, as practice for an invasion. Seoul and Washington insist they are purely defensive in nature.

South Korea and the US have called for an end to the “provocative tests”. As tension rise on the peninsula, the South’s President Park Geun-Hye is expected to hold a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to reportedly discuss issues including curbing the North’s nuclear ambitions. 

Park and Xi will meet on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit to be held in Hague, Park’s spokesman said. AFP