Body of British suicide bomber identified

ISRAELI authorities yesterday confirmed that a corpse found off the coast of Tel Aviv was that of a British accomplice to a suicide bombing at a nightclub in the city last month.

The body of Omar Khan Sharif, 27, from Derbyshire, was retrieved by a police boat but was so decomposed it could not be identified.

Yehuda Hiss, the director of Israel’s national forensic institute, said yesterday that DNA samples from relatives were provided by British detectives. He added that the cause of death was drowning.

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Police believe Sharif fled the nightclub after his explosives did not detonate. It was not clear why he had headed into the sea.

A bomb set off at Mike’s Place by Assif Mohammed Hanif, another British national of Pakistani descent, killed three Israelis. The two are believed to have used their British passports in order to enter Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Mr Sharif's wife, Tahira Tabassum, 27, and his brother, Zahid Hassan, were arrested in Derbyshire after the Tel Aviv blast, along with his sister, Parveef. They were due to appear at the Old Bailey yesterday, charged with withholding information from police that might have prevented a terror attack. Parveef is also charged with aiding and abetting an act of overseas terrorism.

Witnesses told Israeli media that Sharif ran south towards Jaffa port, scuffling with bystanders, after the bombing.

Police said his mangled and decomposed body was found floating 500 yards off the coast on 12 May.

"It looks as though he took to sea in an act of desperation, though where he hoped to get by swimming is unclear," a source said.

The attack was the first by foreigners sympathetic to the 31-month-old Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Islamic group Hamas and the al-Aqsa Brigades, an off-shoot of the Fatah movement of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, later claimed responsibility for the bombing.

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