North Korea fires short-range missiles ahead of U.S. defense chief visit to Seoul

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North Korea on Friday test-fired four missiles off its west coast, a week ahead of a visit to Seoul by the U.S. defense secretary, in what South Korea called a bid to stoke tension during its joint military drills with the United States. North Korea occasionally fires short-range missiles into the sea as part of its military drills and has conducted such launches during times of tension with neighboring South Korea. The four short-range projectiles flew roughly 140 km (84 miles) and plunged into the sea late on Friday afternoon, South Korea's office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. "The projectiles are believed to be for a provocative show of force to pressure the South," the office said in a statement, adding that the North had fired a similar object on Thursday.