North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s brother was assassinated on Feb. 13, and while Pyongyang is at the top of the suspect list, chaos surrounds the hit.
Kim Jong-nam was poisoned in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Preliminary reports suggested that two women — 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and 25-year-old Siti Aisyah from Indonesia — used a poison needle to assassinate Kim. Later reports indicated the two assailants splashed a toxic substance in his face. Both women told authorities they believed they were taking part in a televised prank, suggesting they might be duped pawns rather than co-conspirators.
Now, Malaysian police claim not only did the women know they were handling toxic chemicals, but they intentionally covered their hands with poison.
“We strongly believe it is a planned thing and that they have been trained to do that,” Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said at a press conference Wednesday. Both women went to the restroom to wash their hands immediately after the attack.
The two women are in police custody, along with a North Korean man — Ri Jong Chol.
Authorities are chasing at least four other North Korean suspects who fled the country the day Kim Jong-nam was assassinated. The North Korean suspects are believed to have orchestrated the hit and provided the toxin, which has yet to be identified but is said to be “more potent than cyanide.” Police are also interested in questioning a senior North Korean diplomat and an individual affiliated with Air Koryo.
“We hope that the Korean embassy will cooperate with us, allow us to interview them and interview them quickly,” Khalid said, adding, “If not, we will compel them to come to us.”
North Korea has accused Malaysia of intentionally darkening North Korea’s international image.
North Korea will “respond strongly to the moves of the hostile forces toward us with their intent to besmirch the image of our republic, by politicizing this incident,”North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol explained previously.
Pyongyang has demanded that all of the suspects, specifically the “innocent females,” now in police custody be released immediately.
Further complicating the situation, intruders attempted to break into the morgue where Kim Jong-nam’s body is being kept. Police did not reveal whether the intruders were of North Korean origin. Pyongyang has been demanding that Malaysia turn over the body; however, authorities have yet to acquiesce.
South Korea, as well as some U.S. officials, have blamed Pyongyang for the assassination of Kim.
Kim was the heir apparent in North Korea until he fell out of favor with his father, Kim Jong-il. His younger brother, Kim Jong-un, took over in 2011. Kim Jong-nam was an unambitious but outspoken critic of the regime. Several years ago, the North Korean dictator issued a standing order for his brother’s death, and an attempt was made on Kim Jong-nam’s life. He begged Kim Jong-un to spare him, but it is unclear whether he agreed.
North Korea has conducted a number of similar hits throughout the country’s modern history.
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