London: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was the target of an assassination attempt linked to a power struggle within one of the nation's military bureaus, South Korean intelligence sources have claimed.
Intelligence sources told the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper that 'disgruntled people inside the North' moved ahead of the demotion of Kim Yong-chol, director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, in November.
Authorities were paying special attention because the attempt was made in downtown Pyongyang, not during one of Kim's regional trips outside the capital city, an intelligence officer said.
The precise timing of the attack has not been accurately established, although there were rumours of a skirmish involving an exchange of gunfire in Pyongyang in November of last year, the Telegraph reports.
It has also proved difficult to identify who was behind the incident, with the intelligence official suggesting it was linked to the punishment meted out to General Kim, the paper said.
A known hawk and a close ally of Kim Jong-un, General Kim earned a reputation for being an aggressive military leader who was behind the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March 2010, which Pyongyang still denies involvement in.
Kim Jong-il was apparently sufficiently concerned about threats to his well-being that he refused to fly anywhere and only travelled long distances aboard a specially armoured train, the paper added.