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Police believe 10 men with imitation firearms assaulted North Korean embassy

The mysterious attack on the residential building in Madrid last week saw eight people “hooded, interrogated and beaten,” according to sources from the Spanish authorities

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Former North Korean ambassador to Spain, Kim Hyok Chol, in a file photo from 2015.

More details have emerged about a mysterious attack last week on the North Korean embassy in Madrid, suggesting that the incident was more serious than first thought. According to sources close to an investigation into what happened on February 22 “around 10 people carrying fake firearms” entered the residential building, located in the Aravaca district in Madrid, and assaulted the eight people inside, who were a mixture of “staff from the embassy and guests.”

The injured were treated on the scene by ambulance crews, with at least three people having suffered “bruises caused by heavy blows”

According to the same sources, the assailants “covered [the victims’] heads with bags, tied them up, interrogated them and beat them. The injured were treated on the scene by ambulance crews, with at least three people having suffered “bruises caused by heavy blows.”

A Korean woman who managed to escape the building alerted residents thanks to her screams. Police officers who responded, and were unable to understand what the woman was saying in Korean, tried to enter the building, but a man opened the door to them and told them that there was nothing going on. Minutes later, two luxury vehicles sped out of the embassy, leaving the staff and guests behind in the building and taking computers and documents with them.

The two cars that the suspects used in their escape had diplomatic license plates and belonged to the embassy. They were found by the police nearby hours later, and are currently “subject to inspection,” according to sources.

There have so far been no arrests in the case, but “one person” was found to be carrying fake identification, police sources say, something that has made the investigation more difficult.

The two cars that the suspects used in their escape had diplomatic license plates and belonged to the embassy. They were found by the police nearby hours later

Investigators are not ruling out that the incident could be related to “political espionage.” The former North Korean ambassador to Spain, Kim Hyok Chol, was expelled on September 19, 2017 by the then-Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis given that the nuclear testing that the country was carrying out at the time was in serious breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Kim Hyok Chol, who was declared persona non grata by Spain and was invited to leave the country before the end of the month, is currently one of Kim Jong-un’s highly trusted diplomats, and one of the architects of the nuclear summit between the North Korean president and US President Donald Trump in Vietnam this week.

Whatever the reasons behind the assault, Spanish investigators have no doubt that the attack was perfectly coordinated and planned, and was carried out by “professionals.” However, they are unsure as to whether the attackers knew what kind of meeting was being held that afternoon in the embassy. “It appears that they did not know that there were guests there,” sources say. They were, however, apparently looking for specific documentation.

 English version by Simon Hunter.

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