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Amid virus outbreak, North Korea fires ballistic missiles

AFP
Published : Mar 21, 2020, 9:34 am IST
Updated : Mar 21, 2020, 9:34 am IST

North Korea has not reported any cases of the coronavirus

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, an artillery firing competition between army units is held in the country's west in North Korea. AFP Photo
 In this photo provided by the North Korean government, an artillery firing competition between army units is held in the country's west in North Korea. AFP Photo

Seoul: North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday, the latest in a series of such launches by Pyongyang as the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic.

The South Korean military condemned the launches as "extremely inappropriate given the difficult situation the world is experiencing due to COVID-19... We urge them to stop immediately."

North Korea has not reported any cases of the coronavirus, which has turned into a major crisis with 11,300 deaths and more than 270,000 infections worldwide.

There has been widespread speculation, however, that the virus has reached the isolated nation, and health experts have warned that it could devastate the country given its weak medical infrastructure and widespread malnutrition.

Japan's defence ministry also confirmed the North Korean launches.
ns over its nuclear and missile programmes.

Hopes for a thaw after meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump were dented as they failed to produce any substantial progress on denuclearising the Korean peninsula, and Pyongyang has since continued to refine its military capabilities, analysts say.

With the latest launch Pyongyang "continues an international strategy of trying to normalise its missile tests", Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, told AFP.

Tags: north korea missile, north korea missile launch, covid-19, kim jong un
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