• Kyodo

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A 28-year-old Japanese tourist missing in New Caledonia since Friday has been found dead, apparently the victim of a ritual murder, police in the South Pacific nation said Tuesday.

Local police have detained two local men, both with psychiatric records, suspecting they were involved in her death, they said.

The corpse was found Monday on Ile de Pins island in southern New Caledonia, according to the local police. It was later identified as that of Mika Kusama, a woman from Chiba Prefecture.

The condition of the corpse suggests she had been murdered, the police said.

Her partially burned body was found covered with leaves on a 5-meter-high rock near a well-known beach.

Stones were placed around it as though for a ritual.

The body was to be sent to the capital, Noumea, for an autopsy, police said.

Local resident Isobel Mace told Kyodo News that Kusama had been staying alone at the Hotel Kuberka on Ile de Pins, some 60 km off New Caledonia Island.

The alarm was raised Friday, when Kusama failed to board her plane back to Japan, prompting an extensive ground, air and sea search.

Mace said about 40 Japanese tourists visit Ile de Pins each day from Noumea to see its beaches, natural pools and coral bays.

She said the people of Ile de Pins fear that the the perpetrator could still be on the island.

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