Police in India to check DNA of `hostage' body

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The Independent Online
Experts from Scotland Yard are flying to India to establish whether a body exhumed in Kashmir is one of the British hostages kidnapped two years ago.

They will be working alongside the Indian authorities to determine whether the body is that of Paul Wells, of Nottingham, or Keith Mangan, of Middlesbrough.

One of the three-strong team arrived in Delhi yesterday and he will be joined by his colleagues in the next few days. They will carry out DNA tests on the body, which was excavated by Kashmiri police from a cemetery in Akingam in the Kashmir Valley last week.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "A three-man police team will be travelling to India to help the authorities to establish whether the body could be one of the hostages."

But he said he believed that it could be a long time before any results are known and added: "It could be weeks before any identity can be confirmed.

"There are no indications of how long the body has been buried. The tests should reveal that."

Mr Wells, 26, and Mr Mangan, 35, were abducted by separatists while trekking in Kashmir in July 1995 and reports from India are hinting the body could be that of Mr Wells.

But the Foreign Office spokesman said: "As far as the reports surrounding the identity of the body is concerned, any suggestion that it might be Paul Wells or any other British hostage is pure speculation which has come from the Indian authorities.

"An Indian team are already carrying out tests on the body, which was exhumed last week. We are in constant close contact with the police in Kashmir on a daily basis and we learn about any news immediately."

Donald Hutchings, 42, from the United States and a German man, Dirk Hassert, 26, were also seized and Muslim militants have also claimed that they have been killed and buried in the area.