KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Malaysian police said on Wednesday that a senior diplomat in the North Korean embassy was wanted for questioning in the killing of Kim Jong-nam, pointing to possible government involvement in the fatal poisoning of the estranged half brother of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader.
At a news conference in which investigators gave their fullest public account of the killing, the police also said the attackers had been trained to wipe toxins on the face of the half brother, Kim Jong-nam, and then wash their hands after the attack at the Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13.
The revelations are sure to escalate pressure on North Korea over a killing that South Korea has branded “a terrorist attack” and to further inflame Malaysia’s relations with the North. Pyongyang has refused to acknowledge that the man killed was Kim Jong-nam and has accused Malaysia of carrying out a politically motivated investigation.
Khalid Abu Bakar, the police inspector general, said on Wednesday that North Korean officers had put toxins on the hands of the two female attackers, one of whom has been identified as Vietnamese and the other Indonesian.
He said seven North Koreans were now suspected of being involved in the attack, with four having fled to their homeland and two others — the embassy official, identified as the second secretary at the embassy, and an employee of the North Korean airline Air Koryo — still believed to be in Malaysia.
North Korea has identified Kim Jong-nam as Kim Chol, saying he held a diplomatic passport and rejecting Malaysia’s efforts to involve the victim’s family in identifying the body.
North Korea has called the Malaysian investigation into the killing and the autopsy politically motivated.