Washington: The North Korean regime led by Kim Jong-un has issued shoot-to-kill orders to prevent the deadly coronavirus infection from entering the country from China, a commander of US forces in the South has claimed so.

According to an AFP report, impoverished North Korea has not confirmed a single case of the COVID-19 infection that has swept the world since it first emerged in China, a close ally of the Pyongyang.

North had reportedly sealed its border with China in January in order to prevent contamination, and in July, its state media said it had raised its state of emergency to the maximum level.

Robert Abrams, the US Forces Korea (USFK) commander, had claimed that the North;s move to seal the borders had resulted in rising demand for smuggled goods, prompting authorities to intervene.

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The North introduced a new “buffer zone, one or two kilometers up on the Chinese border,” Abrams was quoted as saying by AFP during an online conference organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on Thursday.

“They’ve got North Korean SOF (Special Operations Forces) out there. … Strike forces, they’ve got shoot-to-kill orders in place,” the US commander reportedly said.

The border closure had effectively “accelerated the effects” of economic sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear programs, he added, with imports from China plunging 85 percent.

The isolated country is also grappling with the aftermath of Typhoon Maysak, with its state media reporting more than 2,000 houses have been destroyed or inundated.

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