Seoul arrests suspected N Korean assassin
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Last Updated: Friday, September 16, 2011, 15:10
Seoul: South Korea has arrested a North Korean agent who plotted to assassinate an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist with a poison-tipped needle, the intended victim and a news report said on Friday.

The agent, identified only as An, was in possession of the needle and other weapons at the time of his arrest, Yonhap news agency said.

The target of the apparent plot, the latest of several blamed on Pyongyang, was activist Park Sang-Hak, who is involved in launching cross-border propaganda leaflets fiercely critical of the North's regime.

He said the plot was foiled by South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS).

An, a former North Korean special forces commando aged in his 40s, came to the South in the late 1990s as a defector but disappeared several years ago, according to Yonhap.

After resurfacing in the South in February, An sought to meet Park.

But Park, alerted by the anti-espionage agency, said he did not show up for a meeting with An at a subway station in southern Seoul on September 3.

"An told me by phone that he was to be accompanied by a visitor from Japan who wants to help our efforts. But then I was told by the NIS not to go to the meeting due to the risk of assassination," Park told a news agency.

"Following advice from intelligence authorities and police, I don't see any strangers these days."

An NIS spokesman said the agency did not comment on cases under investigation.

Park is a former North Korean defector who along with other activists sends thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, sparking angry protests from North Korea.

It has threatened to fire across the border at launch sites for the towering gas balloons that carry the leaflet bundles. Recent leaflets have urged North Koreans to rise up "like Libyan rebels" and topple the regime.

Park told Yonhap a woman who claimed to be a defector had visited his office and offered help in his campaigns to send the leaflets.

But the woman disappeared afterward, he said. Yonhap said authorities were looking for her as a suspect.


First Published: Friday, September 16, 2011, 15:10

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