UPDATE (February 22, 2017 at 3.11pm CST): The Telegraph reports that two North Korean suspects are "hiding" in the DPRK embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian authorities say a senior North Korean diplomat is a suspect in the death of Kim Jong Un's half brother, in a case that has taken yet another bizarre turn after a break-in at the morgue where his body was being held was thwarted.
Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that an embassy official and a state airline employee are wanted for questioning in the case of Kim Jong Nam, who died last week at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after an apparent poisoning.
The suspects were identified as Hyon Kwang Song, second secretary of the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur and Kim Uk Il, an Air Koryo staff member. Ri Ji U was also named as a suspect. Citing an unnamed Malaysian security source, The Telegraph reports that two suspects are in hiding at the embassy and that Hyon was the mastermind behind the whole plot:
"Hyon Kwang Song is the supervisor of the whole plot. His role was to supervise all arrangements and report to the ambassador. He is hiding in the embassy."
Malaysian officials name more suspects.
At a press conference, Khalid said:
“We knew there were attempts by someone to break into the hospital mortuary. We had to take precautions. We will not allow anyone to tamper with the mortuary."
Khalid also denied allegations that one of the arrested female suspects had unwillingly particpated in the assassination, saying that they knew the substance was toxic, had practiced the stunt in a Kuala Lumpur shopping centers and had been "instructed to clean their hands."
Four suspects have been arrested so far: a 28-year-old woman Vietnamese woman named Doan Thin Hoang, 25-year-old Siti Aishah of Indonesia, a taxi driver in his 30s (believed to be a Malaysian citizen) and 47-year-old North Korean Ri Jong-chol.
A number of other North Korean suspects have yet to be arrested, though Malaysian authorities said a group of them had already fled the country.
CCTV photos showed one of the female suspects wearing a shirt with the phrase "LOL" emblazoned across the front.
Footage from the assassination emerged over the weekend.
The incident has sparked a diplomatic spat between the two countries, with North Korea earlier this week slamming Malaysia for colluding with South Korea to defame its image, as well as Pyongyang's envoy to Malaysia being recalled.
The DPRK objected to an autopsy last week and demanded the body to be returned, but Malaysian authorities went ahead with the procedure anyway.
Previously seen as the successor of his late father Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Nam fell out of favor after a heavily-publicized botched attempt to visit Tokyo Disneyland using a fake passport in May 2001. He holds no official title in the Worker’s Party of Korea and was absent from his father's funeral in 2011.
Kim Jong Nam and his family had reportedly been under Chinese protection. His first wife is currently staying in Beijing with a son, while his second wife is believed to be living in Macau with a daughter and son. Kim Jong Nam was on his way to Macau when the incident occured.
South Korean officials claim Kim Jong Nam had pleaded for his life after he was forced into exile.
“We have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. We are well aware that the only way to escape is suicide,” Kim Jong Nam wrote in a letter to his half brother five years ago, according to The Guardian.
Sources told the South China Morning Post that Kim Jong Nam "felt he was living on borrowed time" in Macau.
“He knew his life was at risk," an unnamed source claiming to be his friend in Macau told theSCMP. "He was aware his brother was after him.”
Read the latest developments on Kim Jong Nam's death here.