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North Korean Is Arrested in Killing of Kim Jong-un’s Half Brother

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A man from North Korea has been arrested in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the Malaysian police announced Saturday.

The man, identified as Ri Jong Chol, 46, was arrested Friday evening, the police said, but they provided no further details.

The police had been searching for four men, including at least one North Korean, who they believed had been involved in the attack on Mr. Kim on Monday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Two women suspected of being involved in the attack, one from Indonesia and one from Vietnam, were arrested earlier in the week. A Malaysian man, described as the boyfriend of the Indonesian woman, was arrested and is said to be assisting the police in the investigation.

On Friday, North Korea broke its silence on Mr. Kim’s assassination, demanding that the Malaysian authorities surrender the body and vowing to reject any post-mortem they conducted.

The response to the assassination, in a statement by the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, also accused the Malaysians of plotting to “besmirch” the North over the killing, heightening tensions between the two countries.

The statement was read to reporters outside a Kuala Lumpur hospital where the body of Mr. Kim, 46, has been held since he was attacked on Monday at the airport.

The police believe that the assassination was carried out by two women who struck Mr. Kim with a poisoned needle and wiped quick-acting poison on his face as he awaited a flight to Macau, where he lives with his family.

Indonesia’s national police chief, Tito Karnavian, said Friday that the Indonesian suspect, Siti Aishah, told the Malaysian police that she had thought she was engaged in a prank and had been paid a small amount for her participation. She told the police that she had not realized it was an assassination, he said.

South Korean officials have said they suspect that the assassination was ordered by Kim Jong-un, 33, as part of his effort to consolidate power in the reclusive country, run by his family for nearly seven decades.

Malaysian news media on Thursday quoted officials as saying that the North Korean government had requested the body.

The ambassador’s statement on Friday did not identify the body as that of Kim Jong-nam.

But the statement, quoted by news agencies at the scene, said that the “Malaysian side forced the post-mortem without our permission and witnessing” and that “we will categorically reject the result of the post-mortem conducted unilaterally excluding our attendance.”

Channel NewsAsia, in its account of the ambassador’s response, quoted him as saying, “We will respond strongly to the moves of the hostile forces towards us with their intent to besmirch the image of our republic by politicizing this incident.”

No relatives of Kim Jong-nam have come forward from Macau to claim the body. The South China Morning Post, quoting unidentified sources, reported on Friday that the relatives had been placed under police protection in Macau, fearing for their safety.