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Last Updated: Monday, 19 May, 2003, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
Body identified as 'suicide bomber'
Omar Khan Sharif
Mr Sharif's body was found on a beach
A body found in the seas off a Tel Aviv beach is that of a Briton suspected of involvement in a suicide bombing Israeli authorities have confirmed.

The identification of Omar Khan Sharif, 27, from Derby, was made with the help of DNA samples provided by his family.

Israeli forensics experts said the Briton, who was found on 12 May, had drowned but they have not said how, according to BBC Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin.

Mr Sharif was believed to have run away from a pub in Tel Aviv after his alleged accomplice fellow Briton Asif Hanif blew himself up, killing three people and injuring 60.

Israeli authorities have been hunting for the father-of-two since the bombing on 30 April.

Community shocked

The Britons were identified by passports the Israelis claimed to have found at the scene.

Community leaders in Derby expressed disbelief at the discovery of Mr Sharif's body found floating offshore.

They called for Mr Sharif's body to be returned to the UK so he could be formally identified by his family.

Three members of Mr Sharif's family, from Derby, appeared in court on Monday and were remanded to a date to be fixed in August.

Granted bail

They waved to family in the public gallery before being led from the court.

The trio had been arrested after the bomb blast, and charged with failing to disclose information about a terrorist act.

Sharif's wife Tahira Shad Tabassum, 27, and brother Zahid Hussain Sharif, 46, had been held in custody since their arrest a fortnight ago but were granted bail at the Old Bailey on Friday.

His sister Parveef Akther Sharif, 35, who also faces the more serious charge of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring acts of terrorism overseas, remains in custody.

Omar Khan Sharif
Sharif 's body was identified by DNA testing

Amar Nath, a councillor for Normanton, Derby, where Mr Sharif lived, said people wanted to know what would happen now to the body.

"Obviously, there is a great deal of shock and upset at the news - the death of anyone is shocking, whether they are a victim or perpetrator in this kind of event," he said.

Mr Nath said the community wanted to know how to stop similar events like the Tel Aviv bombing happening again.

Omar Abdullah, spokesman for the Al-Muhajiroun in Derby, said many within the Muslim community were suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Mr Sharif's death.

"People are unsure how he could have ended up drowned and many have speculated whether he may have been captured, tortured or even killed by the Israeli security services", he said.

Mr Abdullah attended Islamic meetings in Derby with Mr Sharif.

Attacks condemned

After the Tel Aviv bombing, Mr Sharif's picture was on the front of every Israeli newspaper.

Their alleged involvement sparked fears young Muslims were being recruited in the UK to carry out suicide bombings in the Middle East.

But Muslim leaders condemned the attacks.

Iqbal Sacranie, of the Muslim Council of Britain said the "loss of innocent life is against the laws of humanity".

Asif Mohammed Hanif, 21, was described as "honourable and very polite" by the imam of Hounslow mosque in west London which he attended.

The Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist squad has been investigating in Derby and London as a result of the bombing.

The BBC's Orla Guerin
"They say he drowned in the water"

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