According to unconfirmed South Korean media reports, North Korea has executed its army chief of staff Ri Yong-gil.
Senior officials in North Korea have previously been absent from view for long periods only to reappear. If true, however, Gen Ri would be the latest of several high-ranking officials to be purged under leader Kim Jong-un.
South Korean media reported that Gen Ri had been executed earlier this month for corruption and “factional conspiracy”.
North Korean leadership expert Mike Madden told the BBC rumors that Gen Ri had fallen from favor first surfaced late last year. However, “when previous chiefs of staff have been removed, they have re-appeared in other positions or been demoted,” Mr Madden said. “That being said, much of the information that South Korean intelligence sources have been giving to the media in the past year or so has turned out to be true,” he added.