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Kim Jong-Nam killed by 'serious paralysis' due to lethal nerve agent: Autopsy

The scene of the killing, the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, was swept by civil defence personnel before being declared safe. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Feb 26, 2017, 09.59 AM (IST)

Kim Jong-Nam's autopsy results suggest he was killed by "very serious paralysis" due to a lethal nerve agent, Malaysia's health minister said on Sunday, adding that he would have died within 20 minutes of being attacked.

Health minister S Subramaniam said the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would have suffered a "very painful death" as his major organs shut down, AFP reported.

"He died in the ambulance. He fainted in the clinic," Health Minister S. Subramaniam told reporters.

"From the time of the onset (of the attack) he died within 15 to 20 minutes." 

The airport terminal where the estranged half-brother of Kim Jong-un was assassinated was declared a "safe zone" after a complete sweep by the police forensic team, fire department and Atomic Energy Licensing Board, agencies reported.

Police sealed off large areas of the Terminal Two departures hall as a few curious onlookers watched. 

"The police cordon was at three areas -- the scene of the attack, the bathroom where the two female suspects washed their hands and pathway leading to the airport clinic -- (and) has been taken down," a police spokesman said.

Malaysia had revealed on Friday that the 45-year-old Kim Jong-Nam was killed with the VX nerve agent, which is so deadly it is listed by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction. 

Nerve agents prevent the proper operation of an enzyme that acts as the body's "off switch" for glands and muscles. Without that switch, glands and muscles are constantly being stimulated, eventually tire and become unable to sustain breathing.

Friday's news that lethal VX nerve agent was used in the attack sparked anger in Malaysia and brought condemnation from South Korea, which has pointed the finger at the North over Kim's death.

Seoul slammed the use of the toxin as a "blatant violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and other international norms". 

Police are holding two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, suspected of staging the attack as well as a North Korean man. Leaked CCTV footage of the two women shows them shoving something into Kim's face before he suffered a seizure before he reached hospital, AFP reported.

Both women suspected of carrying out the attack insisted they thought they were taking part in a prank video, although Malaysian police have said they knew what they were doing.

One of the two female suspects in custody, 25-year-old Indonesian Siti Aisyah, reportedly told a senior diplomat Saturday she had been paid just 400 ringgit ($90) for her role, adding she believed she was handling a liquid like "baby oil".

The other woman, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, told Hanoi officials she had been tricked into killing Kim and thought she was taking part in a prank for a comedy video.

Police also want to speak to seven other North Koreans including a senior embassy official, but four of the suspects fled Malaysia on the day of the murder.

Indonesia's deputy ambassador to Malaysia Andreano Erwin, who was granted consular access to Siti Saturday, reportedly said she did not know Huong. 

Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat told reporters an investigation was continuing at an apartment complex in Kuala Lumpur in connection with the four North Koreans who fled Malaysia on the day of the killing. 

He added that samples from the address had been sent for chemical analysis. 

One man wanted for questioning and believed still in Malaysia is senior North Korean embassy official Hyon Kwang Song, who enjoys diplomatic immunity.   

No next-of-kin have yet come forward to formally identify the body or provide a DNA sample, but authorities have said relatives would be given more time to do so.  

(WION with inputs from AFP, Reuters)

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