The execution of the uncle of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is further evidence of the "extreme brutality" of the far eastern country's regime, Downing Street has said.
Pyongyang's official news agency has announced that Jang Song Thaek, 67, has been shot as a traitor for plotting to seize supreme power from his nephew.
Jang had previously been portrayed as a mentor to 30-year-old Kim - who inherited the position of supreme leader on the death of his father in 2011 - and was seen as the second most powerful figure in the secretive communist state.
But just days ago, he was shown being taken from a party event by uniformed guards, and North Korean media carried statements denouncing him as a "traitor to the nation for all ages", ''worse than a dog" and "despicable human scum" who had been planning a military coup.
Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman told reporters at a daily Westminster press briefing: "If this is confirmed, it is another example of the extreme brutality of the North Korean regime."
His words echoed the comments of the White House, which also saw Jang's abrupt downfall and execution as evidence of the Pyongyang regime's "extreme brutality".