North Korea has executed Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un, who until recently was considered the second most powerful man in the secretive communist state.
The official Korean Central News Agency, KCNA, says Jang was put to death Thursday after being found guilty of treason by a special military tribunal. The agency said Jang, who was arrested Sunday, faced charges including corruption, womanizing, and alcohol and drug abuse.
The report called him "a traitor to the nation for all ages who perpetrated anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership of our party and state." It also called him "human scum" and "worse than a dog."
There was no immediate word on the fate of Jang's wife, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. She was also seen as a key influence on her nephew after her brother's death two years ago.
The U.S. State Department said late Thursday it could not immediately verify the report of Jang's execution. But spokeswoman Marie Harf said U.S. officials have no reason to doubt it. If confirmed, Harf said the execution will serve as another example of the "extreme brutality" of the North Korean regime.
Video broadcast earlier this week by Pyongyang showed Jang being removed from a party meeting on Sunday by two military guards. He was then stripped of his power and positions as vice chair of the National Defense Commission and a member of the Workers' Party politburo.
Last week, South Korean intelligence sources said Jang might have been dismissed, and said his two closest confidants had been executed.