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(LEAD) N. Korea's defense chief executed: S. Korea intel

All Headlines 10:21 May 13, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with details; ADDS background)

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has executed its defense chief on charges of treason, South Korea's spy agency said Wednesday, in the latest sign of a reign of terror by leader Kim Jong-un.

Hyon Yong-chol, the chief of North Korea's People's Armed Forces, was executed by firing squad using an anti-aircraft gun at a military school in Pyongyang around April 30, the National Intelligence Service said.

Hyon was seen dozing off during a military event and did not carry out Kim's instructions, a senior official of the agency told reporters at its headquarters in southern Seoul.

The spy agency also gave a similar briefing to lawmakers in a closed-door parliamentary session on Wednesday.

Hyon's execution is the latest in a series of public executions in the communist country.

The spy agency said last month that North Korea has killed another 15 senior officials this year.

North Korea has often carried out public executions in what critics say is aimed at instituting a reign of terror to consolidate Kim's grip on power that he inherited upon the death of his father and long-time leader, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.

In 2013, Kim ordered the execution of his once-powerful uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was accused of treason, a shocking purge that drew widespread condemnation and sparked concerns over possible instability.

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