North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's half brother was assassinated with a lethal nerve agent manufactured for chemical warfare, Malaysian police said on Thursday.
Releasing a preliminary toxicology report on Kim Jong Nam's murder at a Kuala Lumpur airport, police said the poison used by the assassins was the odourless, tasteless and highly toxic nerve agent VX.Traces of VX were detected on swabs of the dead man's face and eyes.
Leaked CCTV footage from the brazen attack on February 13 shows the portly Kim being approached by two women who appear to put something in his face.
Moments later he is seen asking for help from airport staff, who direct him to a clinic.Malaysian police said he suffered a seizure and died before he reached hospital.
An autopsy ruled out heart failure, and investigators had focused on the theory that a toxin was applied to his face, in what South Korea has insisted was a targeted assassination.Malaysian detectives are holding three people -- women from Indonesia and Vietnam, and a North Korean man -- but want to speak to seven others.
North Korea's state media broke a 10-day silence Thursday on the murder launching a ferocious assault on Malaysia for "immoral" handling of the case and for playing politics with the corpse.
North Korea has never acknowledged the victim as the estranged brother of leader Kim Jong-Un and the lengthy KCNA dispatch avoided any reference to the dead man's identity, calling him only "a citizen" of North Korea "bearing a diplomatic passport".
What is VX nerve agent?
VX nerve gas was first developed in the UK in the 1950s as a deadly chemical warfare agent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).VX is believed by the CDC to have been used for chemical warfare during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.Like all nerve agents, VX stops a vital enzyme from working -- which eventually leads to the body tiring, and no longer being able to breathe. Large doses of the nerve gas can cause convulsions, loss of consciousness, paralysis and death, because of respiratory failure.
The only known use of VX is as a chemical warfare agent and the US government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes it as the "most potent" of all nerve agents."It is possible that any visible VX liquid contact on the skin, unless washed off immediately, would be lethal," the CDC said on its website.
(with inputs from Agencies)