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North Korean envoy denounces Malaysia's probe into 'assassination'

North Korea's top envoy in Kuala Lumpur has denounced Malaysia's investigation into the apparent killing of the exiled half-brother of the country's ruler.

Ambassador Kang Chol called the investigation politically motivated and demanded a joint probe into the death.

The comments from Mr Kang came amid rising tensions between North Korea and Malaysia over the death, with Malaysia recalling its ambassador to Pyongyang over what it called "baseless" allegations.

Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, died last week after apparently being poisoned in a Kuala Lumpur airport.

Security camera footage obtained by Japanese television appeared to show a careful and deliberate attack in which a woman comes up from behind him and holds something over his mouth.

Pyongyang demanded custody of Mr Kim's body and strongly objected to an autopsy. The Malaysians not only went ahead but also conducted a second autopsy, saying the results of the first were inconclusive.

Malaysian authorities said they were simply following procedures, but Mr Kang questioned their motives.

"The investigation by the Malaysian police is not for the clarification of the cause of the death and search for the suspect, but it is out of the political aim," the ambassador said. He referred to the dead man as Kim Chol, the name on the passport found with Kim Jong Nam.

Police had "pinned the suspicion on us," Mr Kang said, calling on Malaysia and the international community to work with North Korea on a joint investigation.

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters later on Monday that he has "absolute confidence" that police and doctors have been "very objective" in their work.

Mr Najib said Malaysia had no reason to "paint the North Koreans in a bad light" but added: "We expect them to understand that we apply the rule of law in Malaysia."

Mr Kang previously said Malaysia may be "trying to conceal something".

On Monday, the Malaysian foreign ministry said it had recalled its ambassador to Pyongyang "for consultations" and had summoned Mr Kang to a meeting "to seek an explanation on the accusations he made".

The statement called Mr Kang's comments "baseless" and said it "takes very seriously any unfounded attempt to tarnish its reputation".

Police investigating the killing have so far arrested four people carrying identity documents from North Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Those arrested include two women who were allegedly seen approaching Mr Kim on February 13 as he stood in the terminal of the airport.

Surveillance video footage, obtained by Fuji TV and often grainy and blurred, seems to show the two women approaching Mr Kim from different directions. One comes up behind him and appears to hold something over his mouth for a few seconds.

Then the women turn and calmly walk off in different directions. More footage shows Mr Kim, a long-estranged member of the family that has ruled North Korea for three generations, walking up to airport workers and security officials, gesturing at his eyes and seemingly asking for help. He then walks alongside as they lead him to the airport clinic.

Fuji TV has not revealed how it acquired the video footage, which was taken by a series of security cameras as Mr Kim arrived for a flight to Macau, where he had a home.

Mr Kim, in his mid-40s, died shortly after the attack, en route to a hospital after suffering a seizure, Malaysian officials said.

Malaysia's deputy national police chief, Noor Rashid Ibrahim, said on Sunday that Mr Kim had told airport customer service workers that "two unidentified women had swabbed or had wiped his face with a liquid and that he felt dizzy".

Investigators are still looking for four North Korean men who arrived in Malaysia on different days beginning January 31 and flew out the same day as the attack.

The four suspects, who range in age from their early 30s to late 50s, were travelling on regular - not diplomatic - passports, police said.

Indonesian officials said three of those men transited through Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after the apparent assassination, leaving on a 10.20pm flight to Dubai. That was about 12 hours after the attack on Mr Kim.

Police also want to question three other people.

Autopsy results on Mr Kim could be released as early as Wednesday, said officials.

Investigators want to speak to Mr Kim's next of kin to formally identify the body. He is believed to have two sons and a daughter with two women living in Beijing and Macau.

AP

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