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June 24, 2017

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North Korea launches ballistic missiles into ocean in test-fire

SEOUL--North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the sea on Sunday, South Korea said, the latest in a series of test-firings seen as expressions of anger over the North's failure to win talks on receiving outside aid, and over U.S.-South Korean military drills.

The missiles, believed to be of Scud variations, were fired from the North Korean city of Kaesong near the border with the South and had a range of about 500 kilometers (311 miles), said a South Korean military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules.

North Korea experts said it was highly unusual for Pyongyang to fire missiles from a city just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas. The North usually test-fires missiles launched from its eastern port city of Wonsan, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the border.

"It is remarkable that missiles were fired from Kaesong, a symbol of North-South cooperation," said professor Yang Moo-jin of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies. The jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex brings together South Korean-owned companies with North Korean labor. "Such action can mount tensions as it suggests that these missiles ... can target the entire Korean Peninsula."

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