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North Korea denies murdering diplomat


Seoul takes security measures

October 4, 1996
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT)

TOKYO (CNN) -- Communist North Korea has denied involvement in the murder of a South Korean diplomat in Russia and said Seoul was wrongfully accusing them.

"(South Korea) is framing a despicable plot to link our country (to the murder)," North Korea's official newspaper Rodong Sinmun said Friday.


The controversy began earlier in the week when Choi Duck- keun, the South Korean consul in Russia's Far East city of Vladivostok, was found bludgeoned to death outside his apartment.

South Korean media reports have suggested that North Korea was behind the killing. Choi was responsible for North Korean affairs and security at the consulate.

Friday's newspaper statement was North Korea's first official reaction to the killing and was broadcast by Radio Pyongyang, monitored by the Tokyo-based Radiopress news agency.

South Korea's Prime Minister Lee Soo-sung, meanwhile, ordered security tightened at airports, warned residents that North Korea may strike against a group of isolated islands, and said diplomatic missions faced possible terrorist attacks.


"There is a possibility of incursion into the five northwest islands," Lee said, referring to South Korean islands within sight of the North Korean mainland.

Lee made his comments at a meeting of security officials where authorities decided to beef up protection of 395 key facilities, including airports, communication centers, ports, and power plants.

The measures were in response to Pyongyang's threats of retaliation for the deaths of North Korean soldiers whose submarine ran aground on a South Korean beach some two weeks ago. South Korean troops have either killed or found the bodies of 22 North Korean soldiers from the incident.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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