Top Asian News 4:18 a.m. GMT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian police have arrested two women in the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korea's leader who was reportedly poisoned this week by a pair of female assassins as he waited for a flight in Malaysia, police said Thursday. The women were picked up separately Wednesday and early Thursday and were identified using CCTV footage from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where Kim Jong Nam suddenly fell ill Monday morning before he died on the way to the hospital. The woman arrested Thursday was holding an Indonesian passport that identified her as 25-year-old Siti Aishah, a Malaysian police statement said.

Malaysia police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has told the national Bernama news agency that a second woman has been arrested in connection with the death of Kim Jong Un's half brother, Kim Jong Nam. He said police will issue a statement soon with details.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Intelligence officials believe North Korean agents assassinated leader Kim Jong Un's exiled half brother, but if the whodunit seems settled, a very big question still looms: Why now? Kim Jong Nam, reportedly killed by two female agents in a cloak-and-dagger operation in a Malaysian airport, had long been an embarrassment to North Korea's government — humiliated during a failed attempt to sneak into Japan to visit Disneyland and outspoken in opposing the rise to power of his brother, who had his uncle executed after taking over. But the overweight gambler and fading playboy had kept his head down in recent years from his base in Macau.

SHANGHAI (AP) — China is adding the deadly elephant tranquilizer carfentanil and three related synthetic opioids to its list of controlled substances effective March 1, China's National Narcotics Control Commission said Thursday. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration called the move a potential "game-changer" that is likely to reduce supply of key chemicals driving a surge of overdoses and deaths among unsuspecting drug users in North America. After China controlled 116 synthetic drugs in October 2015, seizures in the United States of compounds on that list plunged. "It's a substantial step in the fight against opioids here in the United States," said Russell Baer, a DEA special agent in Washington.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother could be the best cloak-and-dagger thriller North Koreans will never get to hear. And if they did, they'd likely need some plot explainers — few know Kim Jong Un even had a half-brother. While no country in the world has a cult of personality surrounding its leaders as intensive as North Korea's, the narrative is carefully groomed and highly selective, leaving even some of the most basic details unknown to the general public. Predictably enough, the existence of an elder half-brother — and particularly a somewhat rebellious, free-wheeling one — has never been part of the North's official leader narrative.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — It looks like a perfectly staged assassination, straight out of the pages of a spy novel: Kim Jong Nam, the estranged, exiled half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, falls ill at a Malaysian airport, complains of being sprayed with some sort of chemical, and drops dead. But, as with many things about the motives of cloistered North Korea, the unknowns currently far outweigh the certainties. A look at what officials are trying to piece together as they work to reconstruct what appears to be one of the most audacious, mysterious assassinations in recent Asian history: WHY NOW?

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A tight and possibly ugly contest is expected in a second round election for governor of the Indonesian capital that will pit the minority Christian incumbent against a former cabinet minister backed by conservative Muslim clerics. After months of campaigning dominated by religious and racial tensions, none of the three candidates vying to run Muslim-majority Indonesia's biggest city secured the 50 percent needed for an outright win, setting the stage for a run-off election in April. Unofficial counts by research companies show the incumbent Gov Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, whose campaign was hurt by blasphemy charges, won about 43 percent of Wednesday's vote.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Firefighters in New Zealand's second-largest city were able to halt a wildfire's advance on suburban homes Thursday after it burned down 11 houses in the hill suburbs and forced hundreds of people to evacuate. John Mackie, the civil defense controller for Christchurch, said about 130 firefighters on the ground assisted by more than a dozen helicopters had stopped the fire from encroaching further into the city. He said the plan was to let it burn itself out, and that a forecast of rain over the weekend would help. He said the fire was spread over about 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) in Christchurch's Port Hills.

BEIJING (AP) — An outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in China killed 79 people in January, the most in a single month in at least three years, the country's national health authority said. More than 250 cases of H7N9 have been reported to the National Health and Family Planning Commission from 16 provinces and regions. State media said Thursday that most of the illnesses occurred in and around China's eastern and southern coast, from Shanghai to Hong Kong. At least six more deaths have been reported thus far in February, raising concerns China faces a public health crisis more severe than the 2013 outbreak that killed at least 40 people and devastated the poultry industry.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A failed attempt to sneak into Japan to visit Disneyland in 2001 may have doomed the leadership dreams of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's elder brother, who was assassinated this week in an airport in Malaysia. Banished from his father's favor, Kim Jong Nam frequented casinos and five-star hotels and traveled around Asia, with little say in North Korean affairs. His life in exile ended Monday when he was killed in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Officials in South Korea believe the attack was carried out by North Korean agents. Despite multiple reported assassination attempts over the years, Kim Jong Nam still belonged to the most important family in North Korea and was a direct blood descendant of the nation's founder Kim Il Sung.