Suspected assassin of North Korea leader's half-brother detained in Malaysia

Portly and gregarious, Kim Jong Nam (right) had spoken out publicly against his family's dynastic control of the isolated state. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 15, 2017, 04.59 AM (IST)

A woman believed to have killed Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has been detained by the Malaysian police.

Nam died on Monday on his way to the hospital from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to Malaysian police.

Lawmakers in Seoul said South Korea’s spy agency suspects two female North Korean agents assassinated him.

Malaysian police said Kim Jong Nam died on Monday on his way to the hospital from Kuala Lumpur International Airport

The woman was carrying a Vietnamese passport at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where she was arrested, Malaysia's police chief said, AFP reported.

The police chief said the arrested woman had a Vietnamese passport in the name of Doan Thi Huong born on May 31, 1988.

The suspect was "positively identifed from the CCTV footage at the airport and was alone at the the time of arrest," Khalid added.  

South Korean intelligence believed Kim Jong Nam was poisoned, Reuters had reported on Tuesday (February 14).

Lawmakers said the spy agency told them that the young, unpredictable North Korean leader had issued a "standing order" for his half-brother's assassination and that there had been a failed attempt in 2012.

Joongang Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, quoted an unidentified intelligence official as saying that Kim was “stung by a poisoned needle” and “died right at that spot”.

According to the spy agency, Kim Jong Nam had been living with his second wife in the Chinese territory of Macau, under Beijing's protection, the lawmakers said. 

A Malaysian police source who had seen closed-circuit TV footage from the airport said a woman was involved in the attack.

"So far from the CCTV we can confirm it's a woman," the source said.

"If the murder of Kim Jong Nam was confirmed to be committed by the North Korean regime, that would clearly depict the brutality and inhumanity of the Kim Jong Un regime," South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said.

Several years ago, Kim Jong Nam was mentioned in local media to be a potential successor to his father, according to Joongang Ilbo.  

(WION with inputs from Reuters)