MADRID — Spanish authorities said police were investigating an incident last week at the North Korean Embassy in Madrid in which a woman was hurt and, according to a North Korean government’s aide, computers and cellphones also were stolen.
A group of unidentified assailants bound and gagged workers inside the gated embassy compound on Feb. 22 for four hours, according to Spain’s El Confidencial news site, which first reported the incident on Wednesday.
The site said that a woman escaped from the assailants and that her screams prompted residents in the affluent Madrid neighbourhood where the embassy is located to call police.
A National Police spokesman confirmed to The Associated Press that its officers assisted a North Korean woman with unspecified injuries. The spokesman, who wasn’t authorized to be named in media reports, declined to comment further.
An Interior Ministry official who was also bound by customary rules of anonymity said the incident was “under investigation” and noted that North Korean authorities hadn’t filed any official complaint.
The embassy couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
Alejandro Cao de Benos, a tour guide and aide to the North Korean government who often conducts tourism and cultural exchange programs in Pyongyang, told the AP that he had spoken to embassy staff who had told him that the assailants had taken computers and cellphones before escaping.
“What I can say, the part of it that I’m sure about, is that this was a robbery,” Cao de Benos said. “I don’t have any other detailed information at the moment on what could have been the motive.”
El Confidencial said police didn’t enter the embassy. The report also said that two vans left the embassy minutes after the police showed up.
An official with Spain’s foreign ministry said the government had no comment, and that the issue was a police matter. The official, speaking anonymously in line with internal rules, said that authorities had been in touch over the incident with the only diplomat of North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, Charge d’Affaires So Yun Sok.
Kim Hyok Chol was ambassador to Spain until September 2017, when the Spanish government expelled him and another diplomat following Pyongyang’s round of nuclear tests and missile launches over neighbouring Japan.
Kim has since become a close aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the country’s representative for U.S. affairs.