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North Korea conducts two powerful missile tests

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SEOUL — North Korea has conducted two tests of a powerful new medium-range missile, with at least one launch ending in failure but the other flying a distance of 400 kilometers, South Korea’s Defence Ministry said.

Both tests were believed to be of a much-hyped, intermediate-range Musudan missile capable of reaching US bases as far away as Guam.

The first test shortly before 6:00am (local time) was deemed to have failed, but the ministry in Seoul said the second Musudan — fired from the same east coast location two hours later — had flown 400 kilometres into the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

“South Korea and the United States are conducting further analysis,” the ministry said in a statement that stopped short of labelling the second test a success.

After four failed Musudan launches earlier this year, a successful test would mark a major step forward for a weapons program that ultimately aspires to develop a proven nuclear strike capability against the US mainland.

The US State Department strongly condemned the launches, saying they represented clear violations of UN resolutions banning North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology.

South Korea’s presidential office said it would hold a national security meeting later on Wednesday to discuss the North’s latest missile launches.

The Musudan has an estimated range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres.

Wednesday’s effort came with military tensions still running high following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch a month later that saw the UN Security Council impose its toughest sanctions to date on the North.

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The lower range covers the whole of South Korea and Japan, while the upper range would include US military bases on Guam.

First unveiled as an indigenous missile at a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2010, the Musudan has never been successfully flight-tested.

Agencies

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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