Sharjah24 – AFP: North Korea appears to have staged a military parade in Pyongyang in the early hours of Thursday, the South's defence ministry said, in what would be the nuclear-armed nation's third such display in less than a year.
Pyongyang has continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes -- for which it is internationally sanctioned -- during the diplomatic engagement of recent years and uses the set-pieces to show off its latest developments.
At the last parade in January -- a night-time event days before Joe Biden's inauguration as US president -- submarine-launched ballistic missiles rolled through Kim Il Sung Square in front of a grinning Kim Jong Un, with the official KCNA news agency describing them as the "world's most powerful weapon".
"There are signs of the North having staged a parade" on Thursday, an official of South Korea's defence ministry said.
It was not immediately clear what military systems were included in the parade, or whether Kim attended.
"We are closely monitoring the situation," the official added. "More details require further analysis."
Specialist website NK News cited sources in Pyongyang saying that fireworks went off in the city centre around midnight and again at 1 am, and jets were heard flying overhead, both of them consistent with a parade taking place.
Thursday is the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known.
North Korean state media had not released images of the parade by mid-morning, nor confirmed that it had taken place.