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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Hannah Foster murder suspect held
Police photo showing Maninder Pal Singh Kohli as he may look in a turban
Maninder Pal Singh Kohli is the prime suspect
The main suspect in the rape and murder of British teenager Hannah Foster has been captured in India, police say.

Police have arrested a man named as Maninder Pal Singh Kohli at a motel in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal near the border with Nepal.

He is suspected of murdering the 17-year-old in Britain in March 2003.

British police handling the case say they are in touch with the police in the West Bengal town of Kalimpong to confirm Mr Kohli's identity.

Hannah's parents are currently in India to raise awareness of the case and have offered a reward for Mr Kohli's capture.

'Early days'

Police in Kalimpong in West Bengal said Mr Kohli was captured during an early morning raid.

He is said to have offered no resistance, according to Kalimpong district police superintendent Rajiv Mishra.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says Kalimpong residents recognised Mr Kohli's picture from a local newspaper, which carried a story on Hannah Fosters' parents visiting India.

Mr Kohli is believed to have been living in Kalimpong under an assumed name for the past few weeks.

A British police officer who led the hunt for the teenager's killer says it might take a few days to confirm the man was Mr Kohli.

Hannah Foster
Hannah Foster was strangled to death
"It is early days," Detective Alan Betts told BBC News Online.

"If this is Kohli, it is an excellent thing. But I can't start jumping up and down for joy until we know for sure."

Parents appeal

Hannah's parents, Trevor and Hilary Foster, are currently in Mr Kohli's home city of Chandigarh in India's Punjab state.

They arrived in India on Sunday for the 11-day trip that they hope would shed light on the whereabouts of Mr Kohli and raise awareness of the five million rupee reward (70,000) offered for information leading to an arrest.

Mr Foster told of his surprise and delight at the arrest.

He told the BBC: "I never expected anything like this to happen so quickly, we are absolutely delighted. This is the best result we could ever have hoped for."

The couple gave a press conference to the Indian media in Delhi on Tuesday, where they launched the toll-free nationwide hotline, before travelling to Chandigarh where Mr Kohli was last seen by his family.

They made a second plea for help in the Punjabi capital city on Wednesday.

Mr Kohli, who lived in Southampton with his wife and two young children, went to India two days after Hannah's body was found in undergrowth in West End, on the outskirts of the city.

If the man arrested on Thursday is correctly identified as Mr Kohli, he would still have to be extradited to Britain to stand trial.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Paul Greer
"This has been a tremendously stressful journey for the Fosters"



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