Thai prime minister urges capture of British tourist's killer

The slaying of a young British woman at a Thai beach resort has damaged Thailand's reputation as a peaceful tourist haven, the prime minister said Friday, urging police to quickly apprehend her attacker. The body of Katherine Horton, 21, who was vacationing over the New Year's holiday on the island of Koh Samui, was discovered Monday morning by a jet skier in the Gulf of Thailand.

An autopsy showed she was battered on the head and body and drowned. Investigators say there was evidence of sexual relations but not rape and hoped that DNA samples taken from several male suspects would identify her attacker.

"I have ordered police to get the killer of the British tourist in Koh Samui as soon as possible," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told officials at a seminar in Bangkok. "This case has caused severe damage to the reputation of our nation and the tourist business."

Tests on Horton's body found traces of semen that investigators believe could have come from her killer, said police Maj. Gen. Asawin Khawnmuang. He said that samples of "several" DNA tests from Thai men and foreigners were sent to Bangkok for analysis and results were expected later in the day.

Police said Thursday that Horton was believed killed by a single person and that a dozen men had been interrogated.

"There is no sign of rape," said police Lt. Col. Dr. Pattana Kitkailart, who performed the autopsy in Bangkok. Matching the DNA to suspects was complicated by the fact that the body was saturated with salt water, diluting the semen, he said. Police denied news reports that a suspect had been detained in the case.

Horton, from Cardiff, Wales, was last seen strolling alone on a beach of Koh Samui, which is 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of Bangkok, on the evening of New Year's Day. Horton's father, who flew to Thailand to retrieve his daughter's body, made an emotional plea Thursday for anyone with knowledge of the killing to come forward and help the police, reports the AP. I.L.

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