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North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan

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Kabul: North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japan, in what appears to be an escalation to get the attention of Tokyo and Washington.

The missile travelled 4,500km (2,800 miles) before falling into the Pacific Ocean – far enough to hit the US island of Guam if it took another trajectory.

It is the first North Korean missile launch over Japan since 2017.

Japan issued an alert to some citizens to take cover.

People in the north of Japan, including Hokkaido island and Aomori city, reportedly woke up to the noise of sirens and text alerts which read: “North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please evacuate into buildings or underground.”

Officials later said the intermediate-range ballistic missile fell into the Pacific Ocean far from Japan, and there were no reported injuries.

It had covered the longest distance ever travelled by a North Korean missile, and reached a height of around 1,000km – higher than the International Space Station.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida described the launch as “violent behavior”, while defence minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan would not rule out any options to strengthen its defences including “counterattack capabilities”.

The US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson called it a “dangerous and reckless decision” that was “destabilizing” the region.

The missile launch is the fifth carried out by Pyongyang in a week. On Saturday, two rockets came down in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Earlier this month, North Korea passed a law declaring itself to be a nuclear weapons state, with leader Kim Jong-un rules out the possibility of talks on denuclearization.

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