North Korean general said to be executed by Kim Jong Un’s regime

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Commuters walk past a television screen showing a broadcast of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's New Year speech, at a railroad station in Seoul on January 1, 2016. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said raising living standards was his number one priority in an annual New Year's address on January 1 that avoided any explicit reference to the country's nuclear weapons programme. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE / AFP / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

SEOUL, South Korea — A senior North Korean military leader has been executed for “factionalism, misuse of authority and corruption,” a South Korean government official with knowledge of North Korean affairs told CNN Thursday.

The official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, declined to give further details on how or when General Ri Yong-gil, chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff, was executed.

Ri was appointed to the position in 2013, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

One source told Yonhap that Ri was executed last week.

The news comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, following Sunday’s rocket launch — which Pyongyang insists was conducted for peaceful purposes — and a nuclear test in January, which the regime also deemed a success.

Heightened tensions

South Korea is suspending operations at an industrial complex run in cooperation with North Korea, in retaliation for the recent launch and nuclear test by Pyongyang.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday also overwhelmingly approved new sanctions to punish Pyongyang for carrying out the recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests as well as for other malicious activities, including cybersecurity attacks and human rights abuses.

Latest execution

The general is the latest in a line of disgraced officials who have been executed by Kim Jong Un’s regime.

In May of last year, Hyon Yong-chol, the country’s defense minister, was publicly executed after the regime accused him of treason. He was reportedly killed with an anti-aircraft gun.

Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was branded a “traitor for all ages,” and executed in 2013.

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