Two more arrested after assassination of North Korean leader’s half brother
Two people suspected of being involved in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam were detained Thursday in Malaysia. This brings the total number of arrests to three, following an announcement Wednesday that the police had captured a woman at Kuala Lumpur airport.
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A second female suspect and her boyfriend have been arrested by the Malaysian police in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The woman is believed to be one of a pair of female attackers who set upon the victim as he walked through a shopping area in the airport Monday morning.
The woman was carrying a passport naming her as 25-year-old Siti Aishah, an Indonesian national — though that identity is still being verified. Her boyfriend is a Malaysian national. Police say they are still seeking a “few” other suspects in connection with the attack.
According to a report in the New Strait Times on Thursday, the attack lasted just five seconds. The report is based on CCTV footage seen by the NST in which one of the women stands in front of Kim Jong Nam to distract him while the second assailant grabs him in a chokehold and administers fast-acting poison — possibly using a glove that was later discarded.
On Wednesday, police arrested the first female suspect at Kuala Lumpur airport having identified her from CCTV footage. She was in possession of a Vietnamese passport naming her as 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong — though again, her identity is still being confirmed. Images published by a Malaysian newspaper — and confirmed as authentic by police — show a woman with short black hair wearing a white top with the letters LOL printed on the front.
An autopsy was concluded on Wednesday but the results have yet to be released. According to local reports North Korean officials tried to persuade Malaysia not to conduct the post-mortem, but local authorities refused the request.
On Thursday Malaysian Deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi formally confirmed that the dead man, who was travelling under the name Kim Chol, was Kim Jong Nam.
Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was once seen as heir apparent to the throne, but following an incident in 2001 when he was kicked out of Japan for travelling on a fake passport, he was exiled. He later spoke out against his family’s dynastic leadership and said his half brother’s reign was doomed to fail.
North Korea under suspicion
South Korea has been quick to point the finger of blame at Kim Jong Un, suggesting there was a standing order to kill Kim Jong Nam in place for the last five years, but there is no proof of this. On Thursday the hermit kingdom was busy celebrating the 75th anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong Nam’s father, Kim Jong Il, with almost everyone oblivious to news of the assassination.
North Korea has requested that Kim Jong Nam’s body be returned to the country as soon as possible.
Cover: ASSOCIATED PRESS