North Korea issues shoot-to-kill orders to prevent Coronavirus, says US
Trump says Kim Jong Un showed off headless body of his executed uncle to North Korean officials
Washington: North Korean authorities have issued shoot-to-kill orders to prevent the coronavirus entering the country from China, according to the commander of US forces in the South.
The impoverished North -- whose crumbling health system would struggle to cope with a major virus outbreak -- has not confirmed a single case of the disease that has swept the world since first emerging in China, the North's key ally.
Pyongyang closed its border with China in January to try to prevent contamination, and in July state media said it had raised its state of emergency to the maximum level.
US Forces Korea (USFK) commander Robert Abrams said that the border shutdown had increased demand for smuggled goods, prompting authorities to intervene.
The North introduced a new "buffer zone, one or two kilometers up on the Chinese border," Abrams told an online conference organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Thursday.
"They've got North Korean SOF (Special Operations Forces) out there. ... Strike forces, they've got shoot-to-kill orders in place."
The border closure had effectively "accelerated the effects" of economic sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear programs, he added, with imports from China plunging 85 percent.
The isolated country is also grappling with the aftermath of Typhoon Maysak, with its state media reporting more than 2,000 houses have been destroyed or inundated.
Meanwhile, the headless body of Kim Jong Un's executed uncle was displayed to senior North Korean officials, US President Donald Trump told the author of an upcoming book on the US president.
Jang Song Thaek, the North Korean leader's uncle by marriage and a hugely powerful figure within the regime, was purged for treason and corruption in 2013, in what was widely seen as Kim mercilessly asserting his authority.
Kim "tells me everything. Told me everything," Trump told the Washington Post investigative journalist Bob Woodward, according to his forthcoming book "Rage".
"He killed his uncle and he put the body right in the steps," Trump said, in an apparent reference to a building used by senior officials.
"And the head was cut, sitting on the chest," he added in excerpts from the book seen by AFP.
The North has never officially stated how Jang was executed, although multiple reports say an anti-aircraft gun was used.