Malaysia arrests 2 female North Korean agents for murder of Kim Jong Nam

Malaysian authorities rebuff North Korean officials efforts to stop an autopsy being carried out on Kim Jong Nam

Malaysia arrests 2 female North Korean agents for murder of Kim Jong Nam
Police officers stand outside the Kuala Lumpur Hospital where the body of Kim Jong Nam is held for autopsy, in Putrajaya, Malaysia February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Malaysia has detained a second woman suspected in the apparent assassination of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, state news agency Bernama reported on Thursday, citing the inspector general of police.

The other woman being held in connection with the slaying of Kim Jong Nam was due to be brought to a Kuala Lumpur court on Thursday. Police had said they were hunting a her accomplices.

Lawmakers in South Korea earlier cited their spy agency as saying it suspected two female North Korean agents had murdered Kim Jong Nam. U.S. government sources also said they believed North Korean assassins were responsible.

Bernama gave no details about the latest arrest, but Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told the news agency an official statement would be issued later.

A Malaysian government source confirmed to Reuters that first suspect detained was the same woman whose image was captured by close circuit television footage and published by media. The grainy picture showed her wearing a white shirt with the letters "LOL" on the front.

She had been apprehended on Wednesday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, two days after Kim Jong Nam was assaulted there with what was believed to be a fast acting poison.

Police said she was alone when she was picked up, and held travel documents in the name of Doan Thi Huong, showed a birth date of May 1988 and birthplace of Nam Dinh, Vietnam.

"Police are looking for a few others, all foreigners," Deputy Inspector-General Noor Rashid Ibrahim told Reuters, declining to give their nationalities or gender.

There was still no mention of Kim Jong Nam's death in North Korean state media as of Thursday morning. At midnight, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to mark the birthday of his father, the late leader Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011.

South Korea's intelligence agency told lawmakers in Seoul, that the young and unpredictable North Korean leader had issued a "standing order" for his elder half-brother's assassination, and that there had been a failed attempt in 2012.

"The cause of death is strongly suspected to be a poisoning attack," said South Korean lawmaker Kim Byung-kee, who was briefed by the spy agency.

North Korean agents kill Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong Nam in Malaysia
Kim Jong Nam arrives at Beijing airport in Beijing, China, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 11, 2007. Picture taken February 11, 2007. Kyodo/via REUTERS

Malaysian police said Kim had been at the airport's budget terminal to catch a flight to Macau on Monday when someone grabbed or held his face from behind, after which he felt dizzy and sought help at an information desk.

Malaysian authorities rebuffed North Korean officials efforts to stop an autopsy being carried out on Kim Jong Nam, three Malaysian government sources familiar with the stand-off told Reuters.