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North Korea test-fires submarine missile

SEOUL — North Korea test-fired a missile from a submarine off its east coast, the South Korean military said Wednesday.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not say whether the launch was successful. It came two days after South Korean and US troops began their annual summer drills, which the North calls an invasion rehearsal. North Korea usually responds to the regular South Korea-US military drills with weapons tests and fiery warlike rhetoric.

In a separate development, the American-led UN Command in South Korea on Tuesday accused North Korea of planting land mines near a truce village inside the Demilitarized Zone, which divides the two Koreas.

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Much of the border, one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints, is strewn with land mines and laced with barbed wire. But South Korean media said no land mines had been planted in the area of Panmunjom village until North Korea placed an unspecified number there last week.

The UN Command said it ‘‘strongly condemns’’ any North Korean action that jeopardizes the safety of personnel in the DMZ.

It said it wouldn’t speculate on why North Korea placed the mines there. Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified South Korean government official, said the North apparently planted the mines to prevent front-line North Korean soldiers from defecting to South Korea.

North Korea’s state media didn’t immediately respond to the UN Command statement.

Panmunjom, jointly overseen by North Korea and the UN Command, is where an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War was signed. The village is now a popular spot for tourists from both sides.

This year’s drills come at a time of intensified animosity between the rivals over the defection of a senior North Korean diplomat in London and a US plan to install a sophisticated missile defense system in South Korea.

Associated Press