(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more details in 3rd para)
SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles toward the East Sea on Wednesday, the South Korean military said.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launch from the Hamhung area on the North's east coast from 10:15 a.m. It did not immediately provide other details.
Observers raised the possibility that the launch might have involved a long-range strategic cruise missile known as the North Korean version of the U.S.' Tomahawk missile.
The launch came as South Korea and the United States are conducting the combined Freedom Shield (FS) command post exercise as well as the concurrent field training exercise, called the Warrior Shield. The 11-day FS is set to end Thursday.
"Under the firm combined defense posture, our military will successfully wrap up the FS and continue to carry out the ongoing Warrior Shield in a high-intensity manner," the JCS said in a press release.
The North fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea during what it claimed to be tactical "nuclear counterattack" drills on the weekend.