South Korea's spy agency believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may have fired his uncle from a top military post and publicly executed some of his associates.
Lawmakers briefed by Seoul's National Intelligence Agency said Tuesday that Jang Song Thaek was apparently removed as vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.
The lawmakers say the NIS believes two of Jang's closest aides - Lee Yong-ha and Jang Soo-keel - were executed in mid-November and that he has not been seen since.
Jang is married to the sister of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. He has long been considered influential in the North's secretive governing hierarchy.
His behind-the-scenes powers were said to expand in 2011, following Kim Jong Il's unexpected death. Some analysts viewed him as a regent for his nephew, Kim Jong Un, whom many saw as young and inexperienced.
North Korea has not commented on the report by the NIS. If confirmed, it would be one of the top shuffles of North Korean leadership since Kim Jong Un took over.