North Korea fires three ballistic missiles at close of record year of tests

© Lee Jin-man, AP

North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles Saturday, Seoul's military said, adding a final salvo to Pyongyang's record-breaking blitz of launches this year.

Military tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in 2022 as the North has conducted sanctions-busting weapons tests nearly every month, including firing its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever.

Saturday's launch comes a day after South Korea successfully tested a solid-fuel space launch vehicle, and follows the incursion of five North Korean drones into the South's airspace earlier in the week.

South Korea's military said it had detected "three short-range ballistic missiles launched by North Korea into the East Sea from the area of Chunghwa County, North Hwanghae Province, at around 08:00 (2300 GMT)", referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.

The missiles flew about 350 kilometres (217 miles) before splashing down, it added.

"Our military maintains a full readiness posture while closely cooperating with the US and strengthening surveillance and vigilance," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Monday's North Korean drone incursion was the first such incident in five years and prompted an apology from Seoul's defence minister after the military failed to shoot down a single drone despite scrambling jets for a five-hour operation.

Full details of the current session are expected to be announced after it concludes.

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