North Korea has announced the execution of leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, saying that he was a traitor who tried to overthrow the government.
The chilling news comes days after Pyongyang's announcement that it had removed Jang Song Thaek from all his posts due to allegations of corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing, and leading a "dissolute and depraved life."
North Korea State news agency KCNA released a lengthy statement after the execution, which accused Song Thaek of "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state."
The statement from the North Korean government labeled Jang a "traitor of the nation" and "worse than a dog."
Earlier this month, South Korea's spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, reported Kim Jong Un had removed his uncle from all position of authority.
At the time, reports indicated that Jang had not been seen since two of his aides were publicly executed, similarly accused of "corruption and anti-party activities."
It was believed that Jang was helping the young North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, secure power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il almost two years ago.
Patrick Ventrell, the spokesman for the US National Security Council, said there is no reason the doubt North Korea's report that it has executed Jang.
"While we cannot independently verify this development, we have no reason to doubt the official KCNA report that Jang Song Thaek has been executed," Ventrell said. "If confirmed, this is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime. We are following developments in North Korea closely and consulting with our allies and partners in the region."
Jang Song Thaek was married to Kim Jong Un's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il.
The government in South Korea is concerned the removal of such a high ranking official in North Korea is a sign of Kim Jong Un's increasing confidence, which could destabilized the tense region even further.