SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched a total of five short-range projectiles Thursday, ahead of the joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States.
The DPRK fired three short-range projectiles between 9:30 a.m. and 9:55 a.m. local time from its eastern Wonsan area in a northeasterly direction, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff ( JCS).
The projectiles, which flew about 220 km, were estimated to be launched from the 300 mm-caliber multiple-rocket launchers. The launchers have been known to have a range of around 210 km, indicating the DPRK success in lengthening the range by 10 km or so.
Two more short-range projectiles, presumed to come from the same multiple-rocket launchers at the same place, were fired at 12: 56 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. each.
The two projectiles reportedly flew some 200 km and fell in waters off its eastern waters.
Pope Francis arrived in South Korea at about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, but the trajectory of the DPRK projectiles were far away from the route of the pope's airplane.
It was the DPRK's 17th firing of missiles or artillery shells this year. Pyongyang has launched 105 projectiles since Feb. 21, including shells from the multiple-rocket launchers, Scud and Rodong ballistic missiles and Frog missiles.
The latest happened on July 30 when the DPRK fired four short- range projectiles, presumed to be launched from the multiple- rocket launchers.
The firing came ahead of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) joint military drill between Seoul and Washington. It was scheduled to start from next Monday.
The DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea announced a statement earlier on Thursday, calling for South Korea to cancel the scheduled military drills with the United States.
The committee also urged Seoul to stop depending on foreign forces and to lift economic sanctions, which have been banning exchange and cooperation between the two Koreas.
The South Korean military said Thursday that it will carry out the drill as scheduled despite the DPRK's call.
Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a press briefing that fighting power of combined forces between South Korea and the United States should be maintained to prepare for possible DPRK threats, noting that the UFG exercise would be surely necessary from the perspective of that.
The South Korean military will continue to stage the UFG exercise, which is annually held and of defensive nature, regardless of the DPRK's stance, the spokesman said.
The DPRK has denounced the computer-assisted simulation exercise as a rehearsal for the northward invasion.
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