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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A 28-year-old British woman whose death is being investigated as a possible "honor killing" was strangled, Pakistan police said on Wednesday.
Samia Shahid was visiting her estranged parents near the city of Mangla in northeastern Pakistan when she died on July 20. Her husband Syed Mukhtar Kazim alleged she had been murdered due to her marriage to him, and did not die of natural causes as her family claimed.
"The cause of death is asphyxia," Mujahid Akbar, who is leading the investigation in Jhelum in northeastern Pakistan, told NBC News. "No poisoning. No drugs."
Akbar said he was surprised by the findings.
"The telltale signs of a strangulation are nail scratches, bulging eyes, crushed larynxes and broken neck bones,” said Akbar. “But none of those featured in the original post-mortem, which is what was surprising to us."
"We now have a clear direction. The story spun about her dying because of a heart attack was obviously made up by her family," he added.
Shahid’s cousin, father and ex-husband Chaudhry Shakeel are suspects and cooperating with investigators, said Akbar. On Thursday, Shakeel turned himself into Pakistani police for questioning.
Shahid, who is from Bradford in northern England, married Kazim in 2014 after divorcing Shakeel — who was also a cousin — two years earlier, according to police.
The death has become a high-profile investigation in Pakistan. Police in the country have been criticized for not grappling with the issue of honor killings, which occur when someone is murdered by their own family for doing something that is considered immoral and disgraceful.