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Malaysia hunts four North Korean spies over Kim Jong-nam’s assassination

A woman arrested by Malaysian police is seen on CCTV at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: SuppliedBangkok/Jakarta: Malaysian authorities believe four North Korean spies orchestrated the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy brother of North Korea’s leader, and remain in the country prompting tightened security at all border exit points.

In a major breakthrough in the case, police have obtained descriptions of the men from two young women, one from Vietnam and the other Indonesia, who were allegedly recruited to poison 46-year-old Mr Kim in the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s low cost terminal on Monday.

Police have also arrested the boyfriend of the Indonesian woman identified as Siti Aisyah, born in 1992 in Serang, Indonesia. He led police to her in the early hours of Thursday.

Siti Aisyah left Batam in Indonesia to Johor in Malaysia on February 2 and there is no record of her returning to Indonesia since then, said Indonesian Immigration spokesman Agung Sampurno​.

She is believed to have told police she was paid to be part of a “prank” against a passenger at the airport.

All three of those arrested have been remanded in custody for seven days, pending further investigations.

The first woman arrested on Wednesday at Kuala Lumpur airport as she attempted to catch a flight to Vietnam was Doan Thi Huong, whose passport showed she was born in 1988 in Nam Dinh, in Vietnam’s north.

Tests are being carried out on substances found on Mr Kim’s body. Mr Kim had arrived in Malaysia on February 6 and was at the airport to catch a flight to Macau, where he lived with his second wife and a son under Chinese protection.

Authorities believe the substances include poison.

Mr Kim became dizzy and unwell after one woman stood in front of him in the busy departure hall to distract him, as the second accomplice approached him from behind, pulled a cloth from a blue handbag, reached around his head and pressed it onto his face.

The portly Mr Kim, who travelled frequently throughout south-east Asia under the name Kim Chol, told staff at an airport clinic that he had been sprayed with poison. He died in an ambulance on the way to hospital. He was travelling without bodyguards.

South Korea’s spy agency has said it believes North Korea was responsible for the assassination of Mr Kim, who had spoken out against his family’s dynastic control of the nuclear-armed north.

US government sources have also said they believe North Korea was behind the attack.

Kim Jong-un, the north’s supreme leader and Kim Jong-nam’s younger half-brother, visited a palace to mark the birthday of their father, the late dictator Kim Jong-il early on Thursday. There has been no mention of Kim Jong-nam’s death in North Korea’s media.

Malaysia has received a request from North Korea for Kim Jong-nam’s body and officials have said it will be handed over when medical and police checks are completed.

Malaysian police have briefly visited the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Embassy officials have made no comment.

Malaysia is one of a dwindling number of countries that have close relations with North Korea, which is under global sanctions over its missile launches.

North Korean agents are believed to have killed Kim family rivals in overseas countries before and have a along history of kidnapping foreigners are taking them back to North Korea to perform various tasks.

One 14-year-Japanese girl was kidnapped to teach Japanese to North Koran spies.

In October 2012, South Korean prosecutors said a North Korean man detained as a spy had admitted involvement in a plot to stage a hit-run accident targeting Kim Jong-nam in China in 2010.

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