Kim Jong Nam said several times over the years that he had no interest in leading his country. Photograph: (Reuters)
Sources in the US govt believe that North Korean agents are responsible for the murder
The estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been murdered in Malaysia, a South Korean government source said on Tuesday.
Kim Jong Nam, the older half brother of Kim Jong-un, was known to spend a significant amount of his time outside North Korea and had spoken out publicly against his family's dynastic control of the isolated state.
Malaysian police official Fadzil Ahmat said the cause of Kim's death was not known yet, and that a post mortem would be carried out.
"So far there are no suspects, but we have started investigations and are looking at a few possibilities to get leads," Fadzil told Reuters.
When asked about the nature of the reported attack, Fadzil said: "We don't know if there was a cloth or needles; the receptionist said someone grabbed his face, he felt dizzy."
In a statement, Malaysian police said the dead man, aged 46, held a passport under the name Kim Chol.
Kim Jong Nam has been caught in the past using forged travel documents.
South Korea's TV Chosun, a cable-TV network, reported that Kim had been poisoned with a needle by two women believed to be North Korean operatives who fled in a taxi and were at large, citing multiple South Korean government sources.
Reuters could not confirm those details.
In Washington, a US government source said the United States believed that North Korean agents were responsible for the murder, but did not provide firm evidence to support that conclusion.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment from the Trump administration, which is facing a stiff challenge from a defiant North Korea over its test of a ballistic missile last weekend.
Malaysia is one of a dwindling number of countries that has close relations with North Korea, which is under tightening global sanctions over its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, the latest of which took place on Sunday.
Malaysians and North Koreans can visit each other's country without visas.
Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong-un are both sons of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who died in late 2011, but they had different mothers.
Kim Jong Nam said several times over the years that he had no interest in leading his country.
"Personally, I am against third-generation succession," he told Japan's Asahi TV in 2010. "I hope my younger brother will do his best for the sake of North Koreans` prosperous lives."