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Among Covid outbreak, North Korea conducts three ballistic missile tests

The missiles flew approximately 360 km (224 miles), reaching an altitude of 90 km and a maximum velocity of Mach 5

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Among Covid outbreak, North Korea conducts three ballistic missile tests
GNN Media: Representational Photo

 North Korea fired three ballistic missiles towards the sea off its east coast on Thursday, South Korea and Japan said, in its latest tests aimed at advancing its weapons programmes, even as it reported a COVID-19 outbreak for the first time.

Three short-range ballistic missiles were fired at around 18:30 (0930 GMT) from the Sunan area of North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, where an international airport is located and where it fired its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-17, on March 24, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The missiles flew approximately 360 km (224 miles), reaching an altitude of 90 km and a maximum velocity of Mach 5, the JCS said.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-han spoke by phone and condemned the latest launch as a violation of U.N. bans, the White House said, but the U.S. military said it did not pose an immediate threat to America or its allies.

Sullivan and Kim also discussed U.S. President Joe Biden's upcoming visit to South Korea, the White House said. Biden is due to visit South Korea and Japan from May 20-24.

The latest launches come amid concerns that North Korea may be about to resume nuclear bomb testing suspended since 2017. U.S. and South Korean officials have said this could happen as early as this month.

Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missiles flew about 350 km, to the maximum altitude of around 100 km, before landing outside Japan's territorial waters.

"A series of missile launches when the invasion of Ukraine is taking place is unacceptable," he told reporters, adding that Tokyo had lodged a protest against North Korea through its embassy in Beijing.

North Korea's 16th known weapons test this year came hours after it reported its first COVID-19 outbreak, declaring a "gravest national emergency" and ordering a national lockdown. 

The launch was also the first since the inauguration this week of conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has signalled a hard line against North Korea's weapons development.

Yoon's national security office said it "deplored the duplicitous conduct" of firing ballistic missiles and ignoring the plight of its people in the middle of a COVID outbreak.

But it said it would not link humanitarian aid to political differences and the new president's nominee as minister responsible for inter-Korean ties, told his confirmation hearing he would prepare humanitarian assistance for Pyongyang, including COVID treatment, syringes and other medical supplies.

Some analysts have suggested such aid could create an opening to restart stalled diplomacy with North Korea.

However, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said the United States has no current plans to share vaccines with North Korea and that Pyongyang had repeatedly refused vaccine donations from the COVAX global vaccine sharing project. 

The spokesperson said that while Washington continued to support international efforts aimed at the provision of critical humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable North Koreans, North Korea "continues to exploit its own citizens and divert resources from the country’s people to build up its unlawful nuclear and ballistic weapons programs."

The official said Pyongyang had created significant barriers to the delivery of assistance by closing its borders and rejecting offers of international aid.

The United Nations said it was "monitoring with concern" reports of the COVID-19 outbreak in North Korea.

Deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said the United Nations stood ready to help, although it had yet to receive any formal communications on the outbreak. He said that even before the global pandemic, North Korea had nearly 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

"We reiterate our call to allow the entry of international staff, including the United Nations Resident Coordinator, and the unimpeded entry of humanitarian supplies, to allow for a timely and effective response," he said.

In condemning the latest launch, the U.S. State Department said it remained committed to a diplomatic approach with North Korea and reiterated a call for Pyongyang to return to dialogue.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed late last month to expedite the country's buildup of its nuclear arsenal amid stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States.

SOURCE: REUTERS

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Mr. Ghumman is a seasoned journalist who has 19 years of diversified experience in print, electronic and digital media. He has worked with 92 News HD, Daily Pakistan Today, Daily The Business, Daily Dawn, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer as News Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Web Content Editor and Article Writer. Mr Ghumman has graduated from the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is currently enrolled in M.Phil in Mass Communication at the University of Punjab.

Business

Price of flour bag hikes by Rs180

A notification has also been issued for an increase in the flour prices at utility stores.

Published by Siddra Sumreen

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Price of flour bag hikes by Rs180

Lahore: Following the hike in prices of petroleum products, the prices of 20kg and 10kg flour bags have increased by Rs180 and Rs90 to reach Rs980 and Rs490 respectively.

A notification has also been issued for an increase in the flour prices at utility stores.

According to the notification, the price of 20kg flour bag will be Rs980 after an increase of Rs180.

Similarly, the price of 10kg flour bag will be Rs490 after an increase of Rs90 as per the government’s notification.

The regional accounts officers have been directed in the notification to personally visit warehouses to ensure price change.

Directions have also been issued for preparing a report on flour stock at utility stores and warehouses.

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Regional

Imran Khan condoles deceased PTI worker Ahmed Jan's family in Mardan

"Syed Ahmed is a martyr of Azadi March"

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Imran Khan condoles deceased PTI worker Ahmed Jan's family in Mardan

Mardan: Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan offered condolence to the family of deceased PTI worker Syed Ahmed Jan.

According to details, Chairman PTI Imran Khan arrived in Mardan on a short visit. Imran Khan has expressed his condolences to the family of Syed Ahmed Jan, a worker who lost his life in a PTI rally yesterday.

Imran Khan said that Syed Ahmed is a martyr of Azadi March and with the sacrifice of people, real freedom is achieved.

He said that Allah has given the highest status to the martyrs. "Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and I will take full care of the family of Ahmad Jan", Imran Khan added.

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood and other party leaders also accompanied Imran Khan.

On Thursday, Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan offered condolences to the families of two deceased workers of the party.

Taking to Twitter, Imran Khan said that two PTI workers were martyred including Faisal Abbas Chaudhry from Lahore and Syed Ahmed Jan from Mardan.

PTI Chairman claimed the two workers were martyred as a result of Punjab police violence during PTI’s peaceful ‘Azadi March’.

Imran Khan said PTI will take full financial responsibility for the bereaved families.

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Entertainment

US actor Ray Liotta dies in Dominican Republic's hotel

A cause of death was not specified, cinema officials said

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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US actor Ray Liotta dies in Dominican Republic's hotel

American actor Ray Liotta, 67, who starred in the 1990 blockbuster crime film "Goodfellas," died in his sleep on Thursday in the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Republic General Directorate of Cinema confirmed to Reuters.

Liotta died in bed at a hotel where he was staying with his fiancée Jacy Nittolo while filming "Dangerous Waters," said his publicist Jennifer Allen. He had a leading role in the film about a sailing holiday that goes awry when family secrets are revealed.

A cause of death was not specified, cinema officials said. According to media reports, an emergency service team had entered the hotel. His body was transferred to the forensic institute of Santo Domingo.

Liotta was born Dec. 18, 1954, in Newark, New Jersey. His many starring roles included playing mobster Henry Hill in "Goodfellas" and baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson in "Field of Dreams." He is also known for films including "The Many Saints of Newark" and "Something Wild."

He leaves behind a daughter, Karsen Liotta, 23.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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