(Seoul) North Korea has launched three ballistic missiles, the South Korean military said Thursday, hours after Pyongyang announced it had detected the first-ever case of COVID-19 in its territory.

“Three short-range ballistic missiles were fired from Sunan, north of Pyongyang at around 6:29 p.m. (5:29 a.m. EDT), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP, adding that ‘they were pulled from the East Sea, also called the Sea of ​​Japan.

Japan’s defense ministry also confirmed the shooting, and the country’s coastguard told AFP it had issued an alert.

It could be the sixteenth test firing since the beginning of the year and it comes two days after the inauguration of new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

North Korea also carried out, according to Seoul and Tokyo, two separate ballistic missile tests in the week before its inauguration.

Yet under international sanctions, imposed in retaliation for its missile and nuclear weapons program, North Korea has dramatically stepped up its testing this year, while ignoring U.S. negotiating proposals.

Earlier on Thursday, North Korea announced that it had recorded its first-ever case of COVID-19 and called the situation “serious and urgent”.

Leader Kim Jong-un appeared on television for the first time in a mask and ordered a nationwide lockdown.



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