North Korea fires two short-range ballistic missiles in 'nuclear strike drill'

North Korea has said it fired two short-range ballistic missiles as part of a "tactical nuclear strike drill" prompted by US-South Korean military exercises, state media reported Thursday.

The missile launches -- first reported by the South Korean military -- came amid Washington and Seoul's annual Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises, which always infuriate Pyongyang.

The North's army said in a statement that the missiles were fired late Wednesday in a "tactical nuclear strike drill simulating scorched earth strikes at major command centers and operational airfields" across the border in South Korea.

The "tactical ballistic missiles" were fired towards the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, just before midnight, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Seoul's military as saying.

"The drill is aimed to send a clear message to the enemies," the army said in the statement, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

Pyongyang has conducted a record number of weapons tests this year.

The North also staged its own command-level army drills on Tuesday in response to the US-South Korean exercises, during which the country's leader Kim Jong Un visited a training command post, KCNA said.

"The drill is aimed at letting all the commanding officers and staff sections of the entire army make full preparations for war," KCNA said of the training exercise.


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