February 28, 2019 13:20
The North Korean Embassy in Madrid came under attack by a group of unknown men on Feb. 22 who took staff hostage for several hours.
Spanish newspaper El Confidencial on Wednesday reported that a number of unidentified men broke into the embassy, bound and gagged the staff and held them hostage for over four hours. One female staffer who managed to sneak out sought help from the neighbors, and a local person accompanied her to the police.
When the police arrived at the embassy, the men fled the scene in two cars. The paper reported that when the police arrived, a smartly dressed man with a badge with a picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un answered the door and said everything was fine. But then he bolted out of the embassy with the other assailants.
Police believe that the man who answered the door was one of the drivers, suggesting that at least one member of the group is Korean or able to pass as Korean. Police said some computers and other communication devices were stolen, and three staff sustained minor injuries and are being treated in hospital.
Police are questioning staff what kind of information was stored in the stolen computers, suspecting that the assailants were after something specific.
The embassy has declined to comment on the incident so far.
In the context, it may be significant that a shadowy group calling itself Cheollima Civil Defense announced on Monday that it would make an important announcement shortly. The group is thought to have rescued Kim Han-sol, the son of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam who was assassinated two years ago.
"We've received a request for help from comrades in a Western country," the group said on its website. "We've responded to it despite a high risk."
On Tuesday, it posted another message saying those who keep their promises do not need to worry about anything.
Kim Hyok-chol, the new man in charge of nuclear negotiations for the second North Korea-U.S. summit, was North Korean ambassador to Spain until he was expelled following North Korea's nuclear test in 2017.
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