UK & World News

  • 21 December 2013, 9:58

North Korea Sends Fax Vowing Strike On South

North Korea has sent the South a fax threatening a "merciless" strike after activists in Seoul burned effigies of the country's young leader Kim Jong-Un.

The North's powerful National Defence Commission sent the fax to South Korea's National Security Council through the western coastal 'military hotline'.

It threatened to strike the South "without notice", an official in Seoul said.

The effigies wereburned in rallies held on Tuesday to mark the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-Il.

South Korean conservative groups, and North Korean defectors, burned effigies of current ruler Kim Jong-Un, his late father and grandfather.

The North said the rallies had insulted the "highest dignity" of its leadership, the defence ministry said.

"We've sent a reply vowing to react sternly to any provocations by North Korea," the South's ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters.

The North's threat comes at a time of growing concern over the regime's stability after last week's execution of Jang Song-Thaek.

The high-level official was the uncle and former political mentor of Kim Jong-Un.

Seoul and Washington have warned of possible provocative acts by the nuclear-armed North.

North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric, regularly threatening strikes against South Korea.

Tensions between the two Koreas had appeared to cool after soaring in February, when the North carried out its third underground nuclear test.

But relations have soured again in recent weeks.