Seoul steps up security, pins Kim Jong-nam murder on Pyongyang

Seoul, Feb 20: South Korea's Acting President on Monday asked the government to strengthen security against possible North Korean incitement, given Seoul's strong belief that Pyongyang masterminded the killing of Kim Jong-nam, a media report said.

During a meeting of the National Security Council, Hwang Kyo-ahn urged senior officials and military personnel to be alert to the possibility of their neighbours staging attacks against government workers or South Korean citizens "to deflect international attention (from the alleged murder of Kim Jong-nam)", Efe news reported.

Kim Jong-nam, the older half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, died on February 13 on the way to hospital after he was allegedly poisoned by two women at the departure terminal of Kuala Lumpur airport, when he was scheduled to take a flight to Macau, where he was living in self-imposed exile.

Malaysian police have arrested two women, one Vietnamese and one Indonesian, and two men, a Malaysian and a North Korean, and are still looking for four other North Koreans for their alleged involvement in Kim's assassination.

"If we put together the announcement by Malaysian authorities and various pieces of information and circumstances, it appears that the North Korean regime is behind this incident," Hwang said, supporting the position of Seoul's Ministry of Unification, which on Sunday accused Pyongyang of masterminding the killing.

The Prime Minister and Acting President of South Korea labelled the apparent assassination of Kim as an "unacceptable inhumane criminal act" and urged officials to seek international cooperation in making North Korea pay for its alleged "act of terrorism".

"This clearly demonstrates the reckless and brutal nature of the North Korean regime that uses whatever means possible to stay in power," Hwang added.

Despite South Korea's stance, Malaysian authorities have assured that the investigation is underway and that they have not wanted to point out the exact cause of death or speculate on who is behind the murder.