The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-nam, has been killed in an attack in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian police say he was waiting at the airport for a flight to Macau on Monday when a woman covered his face with a cloth which burnt his eyes.
He was using a passport in a different name at the time.
The late Kim Jong-il’s eldest son is thought to have fled North Korea after being passed over for the leadership.
‘Laced with a liquid’
Malaysian police official Fadzil Ahmat confirmed for Malaysian news agency Bernama that the victim was indeed Kim Jong-nam.
“While waiting for the flight, a woman came from behind and covered his face with a cloth laced with a liquid,” he said.
“Following this, the man was seen struggling for help and managed to obtain the assistance of a KLIA [Kuala Lumpur International Airport] receptionist as his eyes suffered burns as a result of the liquid.
“Moments later, he was sent to the Putrajaya Hospital where he was confirmed dead.”
“So far there are no suspects, but we have started investigations and are looking at a few possibilities to get leads,” Fadzil Ahmat told Reuters news agency separately.
According to the dead man’s travel document, he was “Kim Chol”, born 10 June 1970, but police confirmed he was actually Kim Jong-nam, born 10 May 1971.
The police official said he had informed the North Korean embassy about Mr Kim’s death.
Earlier reports about his death had spoken of a poisoned needle or a spray being used to attack him.
The results of an autopsy on his body have not yet been released.
Bypassed for succession
In 2001, Mr Kim was caught trying to enter Japan using a false passport. He told officials that he was planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland.
Once seen as a likely successor to Kim Jong-il, he was thought to have fallen out of favour with his father over the incident.
Bypassed in favour of his youngest half-brother for succession when their father died in 2011, Kim Jong-nam kept a low profile, spending most of his time overseas in Macau, Singapore and China.
He was quoted by Japanese media in 2011 as saying he opposed “dynastic succession”.
He was also quoted in a 2012 book as saying he believed his younger half-brother lacked leadership qualities, the succession would not work and that North Korea was unstable and needed Chinese-style economic reform.
Mr Kim was reportedly targeted for assassination in the past. A North Korean spy jailed by South Korea in 2012 was reported to have admitted trying to organise a hit-and-run accident targeting him.