Seoul: North Korea fired a sixth short-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Monday, defying warnings from UN Chief Ban Ki-moon and South Korea after a flurry of similar tests at the weekend.

The latest firing was confirmed by the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), who said it was unclear if the North was testing guided missiles or rockets from multiple launchers.

"North Korea launched two projectiles on Monday -- one in the morning and the other in the afternoon," a JCS spokesman said.

Such drills are not unusual but they come as the Korean peninsula is only just emerging from a period of particularly elevated military tensions triggered by the North's nuclear test in February.

In a statement, Pyongyang angrily rejected criticism that the missile exercises were a deliberate attempt to kick off a fresh cycle of tensions. "Military training ... is the indisputable right of any sovereign nation," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said.

"Viciously taking issue with our military's rocket firing training ... is an unacceptable challenge and a wanton provocation," it said.

North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles off its east coast on Saturday and another on Sunday.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon had on Sunday urged Pyongyang to exercise restraint. "It is time for them to resume dialogue and lower the tensions," Ban said in Moscow.

(Agencies)

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