South Korea says North Korea fires two short-range ballistic missiles

Seoul, South Korea

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula on Friday, according to South Korean military officials, adding to tensions in the region.

The missiles were fired from North Korea’s Tongchon County, east of Kangwon, between 11:59 a.m. and 12:18 a.m. local time on Friday, according to a statement issued by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

“Our military has strengthened its vigilance and surveillance and is maintaining a fully prepared posture while cooperating closely with the US,” the JCS added.

The U.S. military said it was aware of the North Korean launch, which “does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,” according to a statement from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Friday’s launch is North Korea’s 28th this year, by CNN’s count, and comes as South Korea wraps up the Hoguk military exercises — a joint amphibious operation between the South Korean navy, marine corps and air force. Before the launch on Friday, the last test in Pyongyang was on October 13.

Earlier this month, North Korea’s state media broke a six-month silence over this year’s missile test, saying Pyongyang wanted to demonstrate its readiness to fire tactical nuclear warheads at potential targets in the South.

The aggressive acceleration of weapons testing has raised alarm in the region, and the United States, South Korea and Japan have responded with missile launches and joint military exercises.

Next week, South Korea will conduct an extensive joint air force exercise with the US with the F-35B stealth jet, according to the South Korean Air Force.

Experts have previously told CNN that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could be sending a message by deliberately displaying the nation’s arsenal at a time of global conflict.

South Korean and US officials have warned since May that North Korea is preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017, with satellite images showing activity at an underground nuclear test site.