KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent was used to kill Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean ruler's outcast half brother who was poisoned last week at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, police said Friday. The announcement raised serious questions about public safety in a building that was never decontaminated. The substance, deadly even in minute amounts, was detected on Kim's eyes and face, Malaysia's inspector general of police said in a written statement, citing a preliminary analysis from the country's Chemistry Department. "Our preliminary finding of the chemical that caused the death of Kim Chol was VX nerve," said Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar.
Malaysia's national police chief says authorities will decontaminate the airport where Kim Jong Nam was killed with a nerve agent 11 days ago, and that one of the women suspected of attacking him was sickened. Police initially did not decontaminate the Kuala Lumpur airport where Kim was attacked Feb. 13. Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said Friday in a text message to a reporter, "We are doing it now." Details were not immediately clear. Khalid told reporters that one of the two women accused of wiping the toxin on Kim's face was later sickened and suffered from vomiting. He declined to say which of the women — one Indonesian and one Vietnamese — had gotten sick.
TOKYO (AP) — Faced with the killing of its leader's half brother in what appears to have all the trappings of a politically motivated hit, North Korea is turning up the volume on a familiar defense: Flatly deny the allegations, viciously attack the accusers. It's a position the North has been in before, from dismissing U.N. reports outlining human rights abuses or the findings to disputing who threw the first punch in the Korean War. But, while master of the message at home, rarely, if ever, has Pyongyang managed to effectively sway world opinion. With evidence emerging that seems to strongly implicate some kind of North Korea connection to the killing of Kim Jong Un's estranged half brother Kim Jong Nam, the North is intensifying its public attack on the officials in charge of the investigation in Malaysia.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine opposition senator and leading critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly anti-drug crackdown was arrested Friday on drug charges but professed her innocence and vowed she would not be intimidated by a leader she called a "serial killer." Sen. Leila de Lima's arrest came a day after the Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa city in the Manila metropolis issued the warrant for her arrest along with other officials who have been charged by state prosecutors for allegedly receiving bribes from detained drug lords. De Lima has denied the charges, which she said were part of an attempt by Duterte to muzzle critics of his crackdown, which has left more than 7,000 drug suspects dead.
TOKYO (AP) — North Korea's state-run news agency issued a tough critique of China on Thursday, suggesting Beijing's criticism of the North's recent missile test and suspension of imports of North Korean coal are tantamount to the actions of an enemy state "dancing to the tune of the U.S." The article took a tone normally reserved for North Korea's overt enemies — Washington, Tokyo and Seoul. Without directly using China's name, but referring to it as "a neighboring country, which often claims itself to be a 'friendly neighbor,'" the Korean Central News Agency report accused Beijing of essentially abandoning North Korea in favor of the United States by cutting off imports of coal in compliance with United Nations sanctions.
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Explosives in a building under construction ignited Thursday, ripping through a market in an upscale neighborhood in the eastern city of Lahore, killing eight people, officials said. It was not immediately clear whether the explosives were meant to be a bomb or merely stored in the building. The news came as a shock to many in this Islamic nation, where a string of brazen attacks claimed by Pakistani Taliban over the past two weeks have killed more than 125 people. Islamabad claims that Pakistani Taliban use Afghan soil to stage terrorist attacks across Pakistan, a charge Kabul denies.
TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese first lady has resigned as "honorary principal" of a private elementary school run by a man with ultra-nationalistic views following an escalating controversy over the low price the school paid for government land. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Friday's parliamentary session that his wife Akie had resigned from the role. His confirmation comes a day after an endorsement of the school from her was removed from its website. Abe, however, has said he was aware that Akie served in an honorary position for the school, whose president is a passionate supporter of the prime minister's views.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A government official says Afghanistan is ready to seek United Nations sanctions against suspected terrorist networks and their supporters, a veiled reference to neighbor Pakistan — whom Kabul accuses of aiding Taliban insurgents, particularly the Haqqani network. At a conference Thursday, Shekib Mustaghni, Afghanistan's foreign ministry spokesman, said it's still waiting for Pakistan to act on a list of wanted terrorists Kabul says are hiding in Pakistan as well as 23 insurgent sanctuaries on Pakistani soil. Pakistan, meanwhile, has sent a list of 76 suspected insurgents it says have found a safe haven in Afghanistan. Still, Mustaghni said Afghanistan wants to see tensions between the two neighbors reduced adding Kabul wanted Islamabad to re-open its borders, which were closed after a series of bombings left at least 125 Pakistanis dead.
BEIJING (AP) — China's defense ministry said Thursday it expects economic growth and a strengthened social security system to solve problems faced by former soldiers, following reports of new street protests by disgruntled veterans who say they've been denied their promised retirement benefits. The remarks came after cellphone video circulated online showing a large group of veterans in military fatigues walking through central Beijing on Wednesday and gathering outside the offices of the ruling Communist Party's corruption watchdog body. Ministry spokesman Col. Ren Guoqiang said the government and the party are concerned about veterans' issues, but didn't say whether anyone had met with the protesters or whether any new policies were planned to assist them.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's Supreme Court has upheld but reduced the jail sentence of a magazine editor who is currently the longest-serving prisoner convicted of lese majeste — insulting the monarchy. The court on Thursday cut to seven years the 11-year sentence given in 2011 to Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who was the editor of a magazine found to have published two articles deemed insulting to the Thai royal family. Because Somyot has already served almost six years, he will be released in 2018. Thailand has come under increasing criticism for its lese majeste law, which mandates three to 15 years in jail for "whoever defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the regent." Critics say it is used as a political tool used to jail opponents of the country's ruling junta.