North Korea calls raid on its embassy in Spain 'terrorist attack'

Pyongyang says it is closely following rumours of FBI involvement after 10 armed men broke into North Korean embassy.

    North Korea calls raid on its embassy in Spain 'terrorist attack'
    An investigation into the February raid is already under way in Madrid [Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images]

    North Korea has said it wants an investigation into a February raid on its embassy in Spain, calling it a "grave terrorist attack" and an act of extortion that violates international law.

    A group of armed men burst into Pyongyang's Spanish embassy in Madrid last month and roughed up employees before fleeing with documents and computers.

    The incident came just days before a high-stakes nuclear summit in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump that ultimately failed to reach an accord. 

    A dissident group calling for the overthrow of the North Korean government has claimed responsibility for the break-in. 

    In its first official comment on the raid, North Korea said it was closely following rumours that the FBI and an anti-North Korea group were responsible. 

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    "A grave terrorist attack occurred on February 22, where an armed group assaulted the DPRK Embassy in Spain," a spokesperson of the foreign ministry said on Sunday in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, using the acronym for the North's official name.

    "An illegal intrusion into and occupation of a diplomatic mission and act of theft are a grave breach of state sovereignty and a flagrant violation of international law, and this kind of act should never be tolerated over the globe," it added.

    The ministry called on Spanish authorities to bring the "terrorists and their wire-pullers to justice".

    An investigation into the raid is already under way in Madrid.

    Dissident group 

    On Wednesday, a Spanish court accused 10 people of forcing their way into the North Korean embassy and trying to persuade an official there to defect. 

    The court named Mexican national Adrian Hong Chang as leader of the group who contacted "the FBI in New York five days after the assault" with information related to the incident in the embassy.

    According to investigating judge Jose de la Mata, two of the assailants took the embassy's commercial attache to an underground room and urged him to defect, which he refused.

    Speculation over the identity and motive of the assailants has swirled in the media since the raid, with some suggesting links to the CIA and the FBI.

    However, North Korea stopped short of blaming Washington directly for the raid and asked Spanish authorities to conduct the investigation in a responsible manner.

    "We will wait for the result in patience," the KCNA quoted the representative as saying.

    Hours after the court statement, the Cheollima Civil Defense (CCD) - a dissident group believed to include high-profile North Korean defectors - claimed responsibility for the raid.

    It said the raid had no links to the Hanoi summit, which ended abruptly with no agreement, and that no other governments were involved until after the event.

    "The organisation shared certain information of enormous potential value with the FBI in the United States, under mutually agreed terms of confidentiality," the CCD said in a statement posted on its website last week.

    The group - which offers to assist people attempting to defect from North Korea - emerged in 2017 when it posted an online video of the son of the North Korean leader's assassinated brother, saying it had guaranteed his safety.

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    SOURCE: News agencies