Malaysia says still to establish what killed North Korean

Malaysian police officers gather in front of the gate of the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Member of the Royal Malaysia Police special operation forces stand guard at the gate of the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Malaysian police officers gather in front of the gate of the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Director General of Health Malaysia, Noor Hisham Abdullah, speaks during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
A Malaysian police officer walks near the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Director General of Health Malaysia, Noor Hisham Abdullah, speaks during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show security personnel escorting a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam, after the latter was accosted by a woman in a white shirt, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. FUJITV/via Reuters TV
Malaysia's ambassador to North Korea Mohamad Nizan Mohamad (C) is surrounded by media upon his arrival from Pyongyang, after being recalled by Malaysian government, at Beijing airport in Beijing, China, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 21, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
Director General of Health Malaysia, Noor Hisham Abdullah, listens to journalists during during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital in Malaysia February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Kim Jong Nam arrives at Beijing airport in Beijing, China, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 11, 2007. Picture taken February 11, 2007. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS
Members of the Royal Malaysia Police special operation forces stand guard inside the morgue at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where Kim Jong Nam's body is held for autopsy in Malaysia, February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
A still image from a CCTV footage appears to show (circled in red) a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam being accosted by a woman in a white shirt at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. FUJITV/via Reuters TV

By Joseph Sipalan and Rozanna Latiff

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian authorities said on Tuesday they had still to establish what was used to kill the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the body had not been formally identified as no next of kin have come forward.

Kim Jong Nam was killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13 with what police believe was a fast-acting poison. Malaysia's deputy prime minister has previously named the victim as Kim Jong Nam, though authorities have been unable to conduct DNA tests.

"The cause of death and identity are still pending," Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, director general of health at Malaysia's health ministry, told reporters.

The health ministry official said no DNA samples had been received from the next of kin.

South Korean and U.S. officials have said they believe North Korean agents assassinated Kim Jong Nam, who had been living in the Chinese territory of Macau under Beijing's protection.

Malaysia has urged Kim Jong Nam's next-of-kin to claim the body and help with the inquiry, which has sparked a diplomatic row with North Korea, whose officials want the body handed over directly.

Malaysia recalled its envoy from Pyongyang after North Korea's ambassador in Kuala Lumpur cast doubt on the impartiality of Malaysia's investigation and said the victim was not Kim Jong Nam.

North Korean ambassador Kang Chol said on Monday that his country "cannot trust" Malaysia's handling of the probe into the killing.

Responding on Tuesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak denounced the ambassador's comments and reiterated that the investigation would be fair.

"The statement by the ambassador was totally uncalled for. It was diplomatically rude. But Malaysia will stand firm," Najib told reporters.

Authorities have still to release an autopsy report.

But, the health ministry official said a post mortem examination carried out two days after the death found no evidence of a heart attack or of any puncture wounds on the body.

Malaysian police have arrested a North Korean suspect, and say that four other North Koreans fled the country later on the day of the attack.

Two women from Vietnam and Indonesia have also been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the assault on Kim Jong Nam. There is speculation that they administered a poison by wiping it or spraying it on his face.

Airport camera footage released on Monday by Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV shows the moment the women appeared to assault Kim Jong Nam, who is later seen asking airport officials for medical help.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of that footage.

(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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