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Kim Jong Un assassination suspects arrested, source says

By Elizabeth Shim
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Kim Jong Un assassination suspects arrested, source says
A source in North Korea told Japan press North Korean soldiers crossed the border into Tumen, China, to arrest two suspects who were planning an assassination attempt on Kim Jong Un. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun

SEOUL, April 7 (UPI) -- At least two suspects who attempted to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were arrested, according to unconfirmed reports in the country.

The suspects had been reportedly arrested at the China border near the Tumen River as they were preparing a hit on Kim in the city of Hoeryong in North Hamgyong Province, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.

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A source in the North who spoke to Japanese news service Asia Press on the condition of anonymity said he had heard the "terrorists" had not yet crossed the Tumen, which separates North Korea from China, when North Korean border guards crossed the border to arrest them.

The source went on to say the suspects were transferred to the State Security Department, and that the border guards were given rewards – including a chance to become members of the Korean Workers' Party.

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One of the suspects is allegedly a North Korean defector from the South, but the other one or more were Chinese nationals.

Japanese journalist Jiro Ishimaru, founder of Asia Press, said it is likely a rumor that was manufactured by the state to bolster support for the party ahead of its Seventh Congress in May.

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Preparations are taking place in the country ahead of the Congress that is to be held for the first time in more than three decades.

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Ishimaru said the North is heightening control in the country in a run-up to the event, and through the circulation of rumors the state could be trying to "stir up fear" among the people.

North Korea could also be stepping up regulations for other reasons.

A recent survey of North Korea experts in the South indicated the stability of Kim's regime is lower than that of his father, Kim Jong Il, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.

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Nearly 60 percent of analysts surveyed said they believe support for Kim among North Korea's power elite was down and nearly 65 percent said they believe support among ordinary North Koreans for Kim was lower than for his father.

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