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North Korea fires cruise missiles into sea, South Korea says

FILE PHOTO: The North Korean flag flutters at the North Korea consular office in Dandong

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea fired multiple unidentified cruise missiles on Tuesday into the sea off its west coast, South Korea's military said, the third time Pyongyang has tested cruise missiles in less than a week.

The missiles were launched at around 7 a.m. (2200 GMT on Monday), Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were closely monitoring the situation and analyzing the details of the launch, it said.

The launch comes amid a rise in tension on the Korean peninsula and follows a barrage of cruise missiles fired by Pyongyang off its east coast on Sunday.

Sunday's launch was a test of the new submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) dubbed "Pulhwasal-3-31" and leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test, North Korean state media KCNA reported on Monday. Last week's missiles were also Pulhwasal-3-31, KCNA said, adding that they were the "strategic", which typically refers to nuclear-capable weapons.

South Korea's JCS said last week that it believes the firing of "Pulhwasal-3-31" was to test upgrades of existing missiles' capabilities.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Ed Davies and Miral Fahmy)