North Koreans Storm German Compound in Beijing

Eight people claiming to be North Korean asylum-seekers were inside the compound of a German government-run school in Beijing on Monday, a German official said.

The incident came two days before North Korean (search), U.S. and other diplomats were to meet in Beijing for six-nation talks on tensions over the North's nuclear program.

The German school was the target of a series of asylum bids by North Koreans about 18 months ago. In September 2002, a group of 15 men, women and children climbed over the wall and spent the night there before being allowed to leave for South Korea (search).

The German official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would say only that the latest group was inside the school compound. He wouldn't say when or how they entered or give any details about them.

"The German Embassy and German Foreign Ministry are trying to find a solution to this," said the German official. He wouldn't say whether they had contacted the Chinese government.

Thousands of North Koreans fleeing famine and repression in their isolated, Stalinist homeland live in hiding in China.

Hundreds have been allowed to leave for the South after seeking refuge in embassies and other foreign offices in China in a wave of asylum bids that began in June 2001.

Students at the German school were on vacation this week and classes weren't scheduled to resume until March 1.

It wasn't clear where the group who said they were North Koreans were in the compound, which housed the former East German Embassy.

Part of the compound has apartments for German diplomats and is considered German territory under international treaty. But the status of the portion of the compound that contains the school is uncertain.

China has erected barbed wire and spiked fences and has posted armed guards around major embassies to deter asylum seekers. The move has prompted would-be North Korean refugees to shift their efforts to less well-guarded sites such as foreign-run schools.