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Pakistan Shocked Over News National Cricket Coach Was Murdered

Pakistani cricket fans are reacting with outrage over news that the country's cricket coach was murdered shortly after the team's surprising loss in the World Cup. From Islamabad, VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports.

It is news people here feared. Jamaican police announced that Pakistan cricket Coach Bob Woolmer's death last Sunday is being treated as a murder case.

"The pathologist's report states that Mr. Woolmer's death was due to asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation," a spokesman said.

The 58-year-old Englishman was found unconscious in his hotel room on Sunday and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital several hours later.

His death occurred just one day after Pakistan's defeat to Ireland in the Cricket World Cup, which is being held in Jamaica. The loss was the latest in a series of setbacks for the country's revered cricket team.

In August, the team captain was accused of ball tampering during a game in England, causing the team to forfeit its match.

And then some of Pakistan's top players were caught up in a doping scandal and accused of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

For cricket fans such as Navid Mansoor in Islamabad, the news about Woolmer is nearly too much to bear.

"It's shameful for us, for Pakistanis, and everybody is sincerely very sad about Bob Woolmer." said Mansoor.

Jamaican police interviewed the Pakistani players Thursday and fingerprinted each one before clearing the team for travel outside the country.

Jamaican authorities say there was no sign of forced entry into Woolmer's room, suggesting he may have known his killer.

Nasim Ashraf, who will be resigning his position as head of Pakistan's Cricket Board, told reporters Friday no one on the team is a suspect in the case. He said the group would be flying home on Saturday.

The murder investigation has triggered a firestorm of wild speculation in Pakistan.

Woolmer's death is front-page news here and every possible lead and suspect are being debated by Pakistan's diehard cricket fans.

Many doubt Woolmer was murdered and insist he either killed himself or suffered a heart attack after Pakistan's upset loss to Ireland.

Others think he may have been killed before he could name names in a possible expose about match fixing in professional cricket.

But everyone here seems to agree at least that Woolmer's death is a tremendous loss for the national team.