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Sara Sharif: Cause of death not yet established, says coroner

Sara Sharif
A neighbour has told the BBC Sara Sharif was being home schooled at the time of her death

The cause of death of 10-year-old Sara Sharif has not yet been established, an inquest heard.

Sara's body was found alone at home in Woking on 10 August, a day after her relatives flew to Pakistan.

The precise cause of death was "not yet ascertained" but was likely to be "unnatural", an inquest into her death at Surrey Coroner's Court heard.

At the opening of the inquest, coroner Simon Wickens adjourned the hearing for six months while police investigate.

Detectives launched an international manhunt following the discovery of Sara's body.

The three people who are wanted by the police are Sara's father, Urfan Sharif, 41, his partner, Beinash Batool, 29, and his brother, Faisal Malik, 28.

Mr Wickens, the area coroner for the County of Surrey, said he would not normally adjourn proceedings for such a long period, but he was doing so because of the complexity of the police investigation and the international element.

He confirmed that Sara Sharif was born in Slough in January 2013 and died in her home in Woking.

Her death was verified in the early hours of 10 August, but that was not necessarily the time of death.

She was identified by comparing her DNA with that of her mother Olga Sharif.

The court heard that at a post-mortem examination the pathologist Nathaniel Carey was unable to ascertain the precise cause of death, but said it was likely to be unnatural.

The coroner offered his sincere condolences to Sara's family and suspended the inquest until 29 February.

Nobody from her family was present at the inquest opening.

Tributes have been left at the family home in Woking

Meanwhile, Pakistan police said they were widening the search for the family of Sara.

Detectives told the BBC they had expanded the search to two more areas around the city of Jhelum - taking the total to four areas, having received new information from multiple sources.

Hafiz Hashmi, the head imam of the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, said the whole community was upset and wanted "justice to be served".

He described Pakistani police and the system in Pakistan as "questionable" and he said bribery was very common, but he urged Mr Sharif to contact police.

Mr Hashmi said: "Without investigation, we can't blame anyone, we can't say anything. But as a father, it is his responsibility. It is his duty, duty of care. He should come forward and speak with the Pakistani police and the UK authorities."

Police in the UK said Mr Sharif, 41, made a 999 call from Pakistan leading to them finding Sara's body, shortly after landing in Islamabad.

A court in Pakistan last week said Mr Sharif's relatives in the country could not be detained for questioning on his whereabouts.

It came after Mr Sharif's family said police had illegally detained two of his brothers who live in Pakistan.

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