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Malaysia: VX Nerve Agent Killed North Korea’s Kim


Malaysia's Royal Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar


Malaysian police say the nerve agent VX was used to kill the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Investigators found traces of the poison on Kim Jong Nam’s eyes and face, police announced Friday.

Kim was killed February 13 at the airport in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Two women suspects have been detained by Malaysian police in connection with the killing. One of the women was identified as Indonesian, the other had a Vietnamese passport.

The two women were seen in surveillance footage wiping the chemical on Kim’s face at the airport, Malaysian police said. Kim was preparing to board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Chinese territory of Macau, where he has been living.

A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam (circled in red) talking to airport staff, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Feb. 13, 2017.

A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam (circled in red) talking to airport staff, after being accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Feb. 13, 2017.

A North Korean man has also been detained in Malaysia. Several other suspects are being sought, including an official who worked at North Korea’s embassy.

South Korea has accused the North Korean government of being behind the attack. It says Kim Jong Nam has been under a North Korean assassination order for years. North Korea has denied involvement in the killing and said it does not trust Malaysian police to conduct a proper investigation.

Security cameras show the two women quickly walking away from Kim in opposite directions after putting the poison on his face. A Malaysian police official said the women were trained to go straight to washrooms to clean their hands. He said one of the women got sick and threw up after the attack.

This image provided by Star TV of closed circuit television footage from Feb. 13, 2017, shows a woman, left, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, who police say was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam.

This image provided by Star TV of closed circuit television footage from Feb. 13, 2017, shows a woman, left, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, who police say was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of Kim Jong Nam.

Police said they believe the women were paid to carry out the attack and had practiced their methods in advance.

In the security video, Kim appears unharmed immediately after the attack. He is seen pointing to his face while speaking with airport officials and guards. Kim was later put in an ambulance to the hospital, but suffered seizures on the way and died.

What is VX nerve agent?

VX is a highly deadly nerve agent identified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations. It is banned worldwide except for official research purposes.

Experts describe it as a “very toxic” chemical that can kill even in very small amounts. VX has no taste or smell. It can be breathed in, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

In anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, it can cause a range of symptoms, from vision problems to headaches. It can also cause other serious conditions, and eventually death.

There is an antidote to VX that can be given by injection.

Passengers are queuing up for the security checks at the 2nd Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Feb. 14, 2017.

Passengers are queuing up for the security checks at the 2nd Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Feb. 14, 2017.

The chemical can take days or even weeks to completely disappear. This raised concerns that other people might have come into contact with VX at the airport. Malaysian police said steps were being taken to decontaminate the airport.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn adapted this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

assassinationn. to the killing of someone, usually for political reasons

ambulancen. vehicle to transport sick people to the hospital

seizuren. medical condition during which a person loses consciousness and the body moves uncontrollably

toxicadj. containing poisonous substances

absorbv. to take in something

antidoten. substance that stops the harmful effects of poison

decontaminatev. remove dangerous materials

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