North Korea fires several cruise missiles into the sea after destroying peace symbol, South Korea says

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North Korea fired several cruise missiles into waters off its western coast, South Korea’s military said Wednesday.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries are analyzing the launches, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is not immediately clear how many missiles were fired. Flight details were also not provided.

“Our military has increased surveillance and vigilance and is closely coordinating with the United States while monitoring for further signs and activity from North Korea,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The launches were North Korea’s second known launch event of the year following the country’s first solid-fuel intermediate range ballistic missile on Jan. 1, which the North claimed proved capable of targeting U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam.

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A photo of a missile in flight on TV

A TV report announces North Korea’s launch of cruise missiles with file footage during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Cruise missiles are among a broad range of weapons North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un continues to test as he issues provocative threats toward the U.S. and its allies, including South Korea and Japan.

The U.S., South Korea and Japan have also been expanding their combined military exercises in response to the North’s missile tests.

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un recently said the North is abandoning its goal of peaceful reunification with South Korea and even labeled the country its “arch enemy.” (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Tensions on the already turbulent Korean Peninsula have increased in recent months with such tests and with the North taking actions that have shown a clear change in its policies.

NORTH KOREA DEMOLISHES MONUMENT SYMBOLIZING POTENTIAL UNIFICATION WITH SOUTH: REPORT

Kim has declared that the North was abandoning its long-standing goals of a peaceful unification with South Korea and went as far as to rewrite the North’s constitution to identify the South as its arch enemy and most hostile foreign adversary.

The symbolic archway

The Arch of Reunification, a monument to symbolize the hope for eventual reunification of the two Koreas, in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

On Tuesday, South Korean intelligence analyzed commercial satellite images that appeared to suggest the North tore down an archway that symbolized reconciliation with South Korea. The symbolic arch stood approximately 100-feet tall in its capital city of Pyongyang over a highway leading to the city of Kaesong near the border with South Korea.

Last week, Kim described the Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, which was also commonly called the Arch of Reunification, as an “eyesore” and called for its removal.

South Korean military vehicles

South Korea’s military said Wednesday that North Korea fired several cruise missiles into waters off its western coast. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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North Korea claims its long-range cruise missiles are nuclear-capable and can cover ranges of up to 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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