Boy 'murdered yards from his father': Police to interview 200 people after child found strangled in undergrowth. Terry Kirby reports

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A NINE-YEAR-OLD boy whose naked body was found dumped in undergrowth in a park was probably murdered yards from where his father and uncle were watching cricket, police said yesterday.

Today, detectives will begin interviewing more than 200 people who were in Salt Hill Park, Slough, Berkshire, on Sunday afternoon to piece together the last moments of Akhlaq Ahmed, who lived half a mile away.

Akhlaq is believed to have been murdered shortly after telling his brother, aged seven, that he was going to the park's public lavatory. They had been playing on swings in the park while his father, Mohammad Razzaq, and uncle were watching one of two cricket matches taking place.

The boy was not reported missing until mid-evening and the body discovered shortly afterwards. Police said the two men had left the park separately and each believed the boy was with the other adult.

A post-mortem examination concluded Akhlaq died as a result of strangulation but he had also been struck several times around his head and face with a heavy object. Detectives said although the body was naked, there was no medical evidence of a sexual assault.

Thames Valley police have asked everyone who was in the park on Sunday afternoon between 3pm and 5pm to contact police. 'We want everyone to come forward - it does not matter whether they do not think they saw anything, we need to build up a complete picture of everyone's movements,' a spokeswoman said.

A search of the park will also continue today in effort to find the boy's missing clothing and other clues. Akhlaq was wearing dark blue jeans, black shoes, a white shirt and a distinctive blue and white Nordic-style patterned jumper.

The body was found about 700 yards from the swings and 50 yards from the park lavatories, which were closed. The lavatories are known locally as a homosexual meeting place, but detectives said there was no evidence to suggest any connection.

Police were also waiting to interview Akhlaq's seven-year-old brother, who was too distressed to talk about the murder yesterday.

Detective Superintendent Michael Short, who is leading the investigation, told a press conference yesterday: 'This was a particularly brutal atttack.'

Mr Short said he did not believe the boy was killed where the body was found and that he was attacked somewhere nearby.' I would find it difficult to believe nobody saw him with whoever killed him. One would hope he shouted out - did anybody hear any shouts, any cries?'

Last night the family was being comforted by relatives at their home; Akhlaq was the eldest of four children. Mr Razzaq, a machine operator, said: 'Whoever has done this is very bad. I don't know why anyone could do this. Akhlaq was a big boy, a very good boy, he was very friendly and he was very good at school and he loved football and cricket.'

(Photographs omitted)