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Malaysia Arrests N. Korean in Kim Killing

Malaysian police guard the main gate of the forensic wing where the body of Kim Jong-nam is being kept in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Feb. 18.Malaysian police guard the main gate of the forensic wing where the body of Kim Jong-nam is being kept in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Feb. 18.

Malaysian police said on Saturday they had arrested a North Korean man in connection with the murder of the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as a diplomatic spat over his body escalated.

Kim Jong-nam died this week after being assaulted at Kuala Lumpur International Airport with what was thought to be a fast-acting poison. South Korean and American officials have said he was assassinated by North Korean agents, Reuters reported.

Malaysian police said the latest arrest connected with the murder was made on Friday night, and the suspect was identified as Ri Jong-chol.

“He is suspected to be involved in the death of a North Korean male,” read the statement. Two female suspects, one an Indonesian and the other carrying Vietnamese travel documents, have already been arrested. While a Malaysian man has been detained. At least three more suspects are at large, government sources have said.

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, had spoken out publicly against his family’s dynastic control of the isolated, nuclear-armed North Korea.

He had been at the Kuala Lumpur airport to catch a flight to Macau when he was killed. An autopsy is being performed at a hospital in the capital city.

North Korea said in the early hours of Saturday that it would categorically reject Malaysia’s autopsy report on the death of Kim Jong-nam, and accused Malaysia of “colluding with outside forces”, in a veiled reference to rival nation South Korea.

Malaysia hit back by saying the country’s rules must be followed. The foreign ministry has yet to make any comment.

The case threatens to weaken North Korea’s ties with Malaysia, one of the few countries that has maintained good diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

North Korea demanded on Friday night that Kim Jong-nam’s body be released immediately. It had earlier tried to persuade Malaysian authorities not to carry out an autopsy.

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