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N Korea test-fired short-range missiles: Official

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SEOUL (AP): North Korea fired three short-range missiles this week in an apparent routine test of its technology, a South Korean official said Friday.

The North fired the KN-02 missiles, which are usually deployed against ground targets and have a range of about 120 kilometres, into its eastern waters on Wednesday, a Defence Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of ministry policy.

Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper first reported the tests.

North Korea regularly conducts short-range missile tests, but the latest came as it tries to consolidate new leader Kim Jong Un's grip on power after his father Kim Jong Il's death on December 17.

North Korea has made it clear that it will continue Kim Jong Il's "songun," or military-first, policy under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, and a steady stream of propaganda has sought to portray the young leader as a confident military commander.

There has been uneasiness about his rise among the North's neighbours and in Washington.

North Korea conducted a short-range missile test hours after it announced Kim's death on December 19.

Wednesday's tests were seen as part of the North's attempts in recent years to improve the range and accuracy of its short-range missiles.

"If the North wanted to send a message, it would have fired a greater number of longer-range missiles," said Kim Jin-moo, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in South Korea.

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