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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Tests dispute Kashmir body identity

Paul Wells (second right) went missing in 1995
British forensic experts have disputed claims by Indian police that they have discovered the body of missing British tourist Paul Wells.

The Foreign Office said DNA tests carried out by the Metropolitan Police contradict earlier results obtained by Indian police.

Mr Wells was one of six foreign tourists kidnapped by the Al Faran militant group in July 1995.

Indian police said their DNA tests on a body discovered two years ago in Indian-administered Kashmir proved that it was that of Mr Wells, and that he was killed by his abductors.

This is very much a difference of view between experts

Foreign Office spokesman
Mr Wells, from Blackburn, was taken from a tourist resort in Pahalgam, about 100km from Srinagar, in July 1995.

Police exhumed a body from a village in the district of Anantnag in 1997, after receiving reports that Mr Wells was buried in the village graveyard.

Paul's parents were asked to give DNA samples to Indian police after the discovery.

But, according to a Foreign Office spokesman, the body belongs neither to Mr Wells nor fellow British captive Keith Mangan. Links to two other missing trekkers were also ruled out.

"This is very much a difference of view between experts. I'm sure that some form of report will be submitted just between the experts," he said.

"We are obviously very concerned that they (the families) don't want to be on the knife-edge all the time."

Mr Mangan's father, Charles, said: "We're very concerned because we don't know what's going on. Somebody must know something."

Deny that Masoud Azhar is a member
The kidnappers wanted Masood Azhar released
In 1996, a militant from the Harkat-ul Ansar group confessed to police that five of the six foreign tourists - two Britons, a German, a Norwegian and an American - were killed by their abductors in the southern Kashmir valley.

One of the hostages, American John Childs, escaped.

The kidnappers demanded the release of 21 militants, including an Islamic cleric, Maulana Masood Azhar.

Azhar was finally released on 30 December last year as part of a deal struck to end the Indian Airlines hijacking at Christmas.

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See also:

21 Feb 00 | South Asia
Police probe Kashmir body find
05 Jan 00 | South Asia
Dead Briton 'identified' in Kashmir
25 Dec 99 | South Asia
Profile: Maulana Masood Azhar
31 Dec 99 | South Asia
Indian hijack drama over
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