Tuesday 24th October, 2017
8 ℃ | 20 ℃Seoul

KUALA LUMPUR, North Korea - Two women have been arrested in connection with the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s older half-brother — known for his criticism of the nation’s leadership.

Kim Jong Nam, 46, was killed under mysterious circumstances on Monday at the airport in Kuala Lumpur on his way to catch a flight to Macau, according to Malaysian police.

In a statement, the Malaysian police said a woman carrying Vietnamese travel documents, identified as 28-year-old Doan Thi Houng, had been arrested early Wednesday morning. 

The police further added that the woman, who was alone at the time of the arrest, had been identified from CCTV footage. 

A CCTV image showing a woman dressed in a white, long-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with “LOL” was circulated in the Malaysian media, is believed to be behind the killing.

"We recognized her from the footage and picked her up. We are holding her in the Selangor police headquarters for questioning. Yes, we believe she was involved in the incident on Monday,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said in connection with the arrest of the first woman.

A second woman was arrested later carrying an Indonesian passport identifying her as 25-year-old Siti Aishah, Malaysian authorities said.

“She was also positively identified from the CCTV footage at the airport and was alone at the time of arrest,” the statement from the authorities said. 

No further details were given.

Kim was reportedly killed when two women attacked him with poisoned needles at the airport, leading to speculation over whether North Korea dispatched a squad to kill the isolated dictator's half brother.

One of the women is alleged to have grabbed him while the other sprayed his face with a chemical and held a cloth over it for 10 seconds. 

An autopsy was also conducted on the body of Kim, however, it was not immediately clear if or when the findings would be made public.

According to Abdul Samah Mat, a senior Malaysian police official, North Korea had objected to the autopsy and asked for Kim Jong Nam's body to be returned, but since there was no formal request the procedure was conducted.

Meanwhile, experts such as Professor Hazel Smith, director of the International Institute of Korean Studies at Britain's University of Central Lancashire, believed the assassination was almost certainly North Korean in origin.

"If confirmed, this looks like pure vindictiveness by the leadership ... this is an irrational act," she said. 

"Kim Jong Nam was not a political figure and not associated with any fugitives outside of the country ... [so killing him] is not strategic or protective, and not retaliatory."

James Edward Hoare, an associate fellow and North Korea expert at Chatham House, a London-based think tank, "Most North Koreans do not know of his existence and he ruled himself out as a political player long ago and in this sense, it appeared his death would have no immediate benefits for the regime."

A thought echoed by Smith at the University of Central Lancashire.

"It is not just the manner of it, which is brutal, but it's the fact that there's no pay-off," he said.

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