Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET on 2017-02-15
Malaysian police said Wednesday they had arrested a woman carrying a Vietnamese passport and were looking for five other suspects in the alleged murder of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
The arrest took place at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur’s international airport where, two days earlier, a man whom South Korean officials have identified as Kim Jong-Nam died en route to hospital after a woman reportedly attacked him with a chemical spray.
“On 15 February 2017 at about 0820 hours, the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) arrested a female suspect at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2). She was in a possession of a Socialist Republic of Vietnam travel document,” said a statement issued by Malaysian police.
The body of the victim was taken early Wednesday to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, the country’s largest and best-equipped government hospital, where an autopsy was conducted, a police source told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.
Sepang district police chief Abdul Aziz Ali said the post-mortem on the deceased had been completed but declined to comment on the cause of death.
An official close to the investigation told BenarNews that North Korea had requested the Malaysian government to release the victim’s body without a post-mortem.
“But we turned down their request,” the official familiar with the case said.
Another police official said Malaysian police would pursue their investigation and release the body only after a post-mortem and related procedures were completed.
"[The] incident happened here so we have to follow the rule of the land," the officer said.
Malaysian authorities have not officially confirmed whether Kim Jong-Nam was the man who died in Monday’s airport attack. So far, they have identified the victim from his passport as a 46-year-old North Korean man, Kim Chol.
The suspect in custody, 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong according to her passport, was “positively identified from the CCTV footage at the airport” and was alone at the time of her arrest, the statement said.
Apart from her, Malaysian authorities were searching for “several more” suspects, including a female accomplice and four men allegedly connected to the murder, The Star newspaper quoted Deputy Police Inspector-General Noor Rashid Ibrahim as saying.
The arrested suspect is to appear on Thursday morning for a remand order at the Shah Alam Magistrates Court in Selangor, according to a police official.
‘Murdered man is Kim Jong-Nam’: Seoul
On Wednesday, South Korean officials said they had no doubt the victim was the estranged brother of the North Korean leader.
“Our government is certain that the murdered man is Kim Jong-Nam,” said Chung Joon-Hee, a spokesman for Seoul’s unification ministry that handles inter-Korea affairs.
“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, the country's acting president, told a meeting of security officials in Seoul.
A U.S. government source told Reuters that Washington strongly believed that North Korean agents carried out the assassination.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.