The Malaysian government has ordered the body of Kim Jong-nam to be returned to North Korea.

The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur airport on 13 February by two women who smeared the toxic nerve agent VX on his face.

After his death, a diplomatic row between the two countries escalated when Malaysian authorities imposed a ban on North Korean nationals leaving the country. Malaysian authorities initially refused to release Kim Jong-nam's body because they needed to formally identify it, which they have now done, using his son's DNA.

Kim Jong-nam's body is believed to be on Malaysia Airlines flight MH360 to Beijing en route to North Korea, according to Reuters.

Malaysian authorities said the body was being returned to North Korea to "the family of the deceased", although Kim is believed to have children with women in Macau and Beijing, and not in his homeland.

The release of the body was negotiated to secure the return of nine Malaysians who are currently stranded in the North Korean capital after they were prevented from leaving the country due to a travel ban.

Malaysian investigators have demanded that North Korea hand over the suspects of the killing. Interpol has issued a "red notice" for four North Koreans wanted in connection with the murder, three of whom are thought to be hiding in Pyongyang's embassy in Kuala Lumpur. They are: Ri Ji Hyon, 33, Hong Song Hac, 34, O Jong Gil, 55, and Ri Jae Nam, 57.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said: "I had a deep personal concern about this matter, and we worked intensively behind the scenes to achieve this successful outcome. Many challenges were overcome to ensure the return of our fellow Malaysians.

"Our police investigation into this serious crime on Malaysian soil will continue. I have instructed for all possible measures to be taken to bring those responsible for this murder to justice."