The investigation into the assasination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, has led to North Korea temporarily banning Malaysians from leaving their country.
The state news agency in North Korea cited a foreign ministry statement saying all Malaysians ”will be temporarily prohibited from leaving the country to ensure the safety of its diplomats until the incident that happened in Malaysia is properly resolved”.
Following the ban on Malaysians from leaving North Korea, Malaysian Prime Minister said:
“It is an abhorrent act, holding our citizens from leaving the country with disregard to international law.”
The Malaysian government further responded by saying it would not allow North Korean diplomats to leave its country, surrounding the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur with tape and armed police.
Kim Jong Nam was killed in a crowded Kuala Lumpur airport terminal last month. His face was smeared with a substance which Malaysian investigators say is VX, a nerve agent, and internationally banned chemical weapon. He died within 20 minutes.
Malaysia carried out an autopsy on the body against the objections of North Korean diplomats in Kuala Lumpur, who insisted that the man – referred to simply as a “North Korean citizen” – had died of a heart attack.
So far, the Malaysian government has refused to release the body of Kim Jong Nam without DNA identification from next of kin, but no family member has come forward to claim the body.
The Malaysian police investigation infuriated Pyongyang even more by naming seven North Koreans as wanted for questioning by police.
Three North Korean nationals named are said to be hiding in the country’s embassy, Malaysia’s chief of police said on Tuesday.
In the past three days, North Korea and Malaysia have been embroiled in a diplomatic row with the two countries declaring each other’s ambassadors as ”persona non grata”, ordering them to leave.
Malaysia’s foreign ministry said it had 11 citizens in North Korea, including three embassy staff, six family members, and two others. Neither country has announced how many North Koreans live in Malaysia.
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