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North Korea fires 16th missile of the year, rattling neighbors

North Korea fires 16th missile of the year, rattling neighbors
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves as he attends a national meeting and 110th birth anniversary of the country's late founder, Kim Il Sung, at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 15. North Korea launched in new missile into the East Sea on Thursday. Photo by Korean Central News Agency/EPA-EFE

May 12 (UPI) -- North Korea on Thursday launched a ballistic missile into the East Sea, the 16th time it has done so this year, raising fears on the Korean peninsula.

The secretive communist country launched a submarine-based missile off its east coast on May 7. It also shot an intercontinental ballistic missile three days before that.

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The South Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch a "provocation."

"The North's recent series of ballistic missile launches are serious provocations that undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community," the joint chiefs said, according to Yonhap News.

The test comes after North Korea announced it had recorded its first official infection of the COVID-19, ordering a strict lockdown. The state-run Korean Central News Agency said it confirmed the Omicron BA.2 variant in the country.

Thursday's launch dashed hopes that North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un may become preoccupied with protecting North Koreans from the coronavirus.

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