North Korea fires short-range projectiles into sea amid tension over nuclear ambitions

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North Korea Launches 2 Ballistic Missiles

SEOUL, March 21 (Reuters) - North Korea fired five short-range projectiles into the sea off its east coast on Monday, South Korea's military said, amid heightened tension over the isolated country's nuclear and rocket programs.

The unidentified projectiles were launched from south of the city of Hamhung and flew about 200 km (120 miles), landing in waters east of North Korea, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

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On Friday, North Korea fired two mid-range ballistic missiles into the sea in defiance of tough new U.N. and U.S. sanctions slapped on the country following nuclear and rocket tests earlier this year.

"North Korea should refrain from all provocative actions, including missile launches, which are in clear violation of U.N. resolutions," Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, told reporters in Seoul when asked about Monday's firing.

See photos of the tension between the Koreas:

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In recent weeks, North Korea has stepped up its bellicose rhetoric, threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Washington and Seoul and firing short-range missiles and artillery into the sea.

The North protests annual ongoing joint U.S.-South Korea military drills.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last week that the country would soon test a nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in what would be a direct violation of U.N. resolutions that have the backing of Pyongyang's chief ally, China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China was "deeply concerned" about the situation on the Korean peninsula.

"We hope North Korea does not do anything to contravene U.N. Security Council resolutions. We also hope all sides can remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid doing anything to exacerbate confrontation or tensions," she told a daily news briefing.

Related: United Nations sanctions against North Korea

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North Korea fires short-range projectiles into sea amid tension over nuclear ambitions
Members of the UN Security Council vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on sanctions against North Korea March 2, 2016 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the UN Security Council vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on sanctions against North Korea March 2, 2016 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power (L) speaks to Japan's Ambassador to the UN Motohide Yoshikawa before a vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on sanctions against North Korea March 2, 2016 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Japan's Ambassador to the UN Motohide Yoshikawa (R) speaks with France's Ambassador to the UN François Delattre before a vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on sanctions against North Korea March 2, 2016 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korea's delegation to the UN lead by Ambassador Oh Joon (R) talkS before a vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on sanctions against North Korea March 2, 2016 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power speaks to members of the UN Security Council after a vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on sanctions against North Korea March 2, 2016 at the United Nations in New York. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
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