Kim Jong-nam
North Korean heir-apparent Kim Jong Nam takes a look around as he boards a plane upon his deportation from Japan at Tokyo's Narita international airport May 4, 2001. Reuters/Eriko Sugita

Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to a Malaysian official, he died after being attacked on Monday with a chemical spray.

It has been alleged that the forty six-year-old Jong-nam was poisoned by two female North Korean assassins. Jong-nam was at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Monday and was waiting for his flight to Macau. Eyewitness accounts reveal he was rushed to the hospital after asking for help at the airport information point.

“The deceased ... felt like someone grabbed or held his face from behind,” Police official Fadzil Ahmat said. “He felt dizzy, so he asked for help at the ... counter of KLIA.”

Jong-nam had been outspoken regarding his family’s control over the country. He had been known to have spent a significant amount of time outside the country.

Police official Fadzil Ahmat said a post mortem would be conducted. The cause of death has not been made clear yet. “So far there are no suspects, but we have started investigations and are looking at a few possibilities to get leads,” Fadzil said, speaking with Reuters.

Malaysian police said in a statement that the deceased was travelling under the name of Kim Chol, as was noted in the passport. The individual was born in Pyongyang in 1970.

Jong-nam and Jong-un are half brothers and sons of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Tipped by outsiders to take over Jong-il, he became a disfavoured candidate after he was caught trying to enter Japan under a false passport in 2001. He said he wanted to visit the Tokyo Disneyland.

According to Leonid Petrov, from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, the timing of the incident was critical. “North Korea is celebrating the 75th anniversary of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-il, and many see this as Kim Jong-un asserting control,” Petrov said, speaking with ABC News Breakfast.

Jong-nam was believed to have been in Macau, Singapore and Malaysia recently. Nevertheless, the reason why he would be killed is not clear, Petrov said. "It's widely assumed that he didn't want to in any way try to go back and take power,” Petrov said. “He was out of North Korea."