The United States called Friday for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile.

The missile launch came amid protests from Pyongyang against joint military drills by US and South Korean forces and the UN increasing sanctions against the country.

One missile was fired at 5:55 am Friday (2055 GMT Thursday) from the west of the country, and travelled around 800 kilometres across North Korean territory before landing in the sea, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported, citing Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Around 22 minutes after the launch, radar signals picked up by the South Korean military indicated a likely second missile launched from the same location, Yonhap said.

That signal was lost shortly afterwards, indicating the missile may have exploded in flight, the report said.

"An analysis so far indicates it was a missile, but more examination is needed to verify the data," it quoted the JCS as saying.

The missiles were thought to be of the Rodong model, which has a range of 1,300 kilometres and can reach all of South Korea and some of Japan, the report said.

The missile that reached the sea "dropped into waters within the Japanese Air Defense Identification Zone," or ADIZ, the JCS said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country "categorically condemns" the launch, and "will closely cooperate with the international community to deal resolutely" with it.

A Defence Ministry source declined to confirm whether the missile landed in the Japanese ADIZ, which requires all aircraft to contact Tokyo before they enter it. The zone, which Japan last expanded in 2010, reaches hundreds of miles from the Japanese shore.

"We are still analyzing details," the source said.

Tokyo's Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a formal protest with Pyongyang's embassy in China, North Korea's main diplomatic ally.

Tensions have increased on the peninsula since North Korea tested a nuclear device in January and a long-range rocket in February, prompting the UN Security Council to impose its strictest sanctions ever on North Korea.

The isolated regime on March 10 launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, according to South Korean officials.

The previous day, Pyongyang's communist leader Kim Jong Un said the country had succeeded in making nuclear warheads small enough to be carried by its ballistic missiles, although some observers have doubted this.

North Korea has complained about the ongoing South Korean and US annual military manoeuvres, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which have been running since March 7.

The North says the drills are a rehearsal for invasion. It said Wednesday it would launch a pre-emptive attack if it saw any sign of an attempt to breach its boundaries.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.