Body of American hiker Kristine Luken to be flown to US

Order of service for a memorial held for Kristine Luken in Jerusalem, 23 Dec Friends attended a memorial service for Ms Luken in Jerusalem on Thursday

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The body of an American woman who was found stabbed to death near Jerusalem is being flown back to the US, an Israeli church official has said.

Israeli police said on Sunday they had found the body and were investigating whether the killing was political.

The US embassy in Tel Aviv identified the victim as Kristine Luken.

Ms Luken's travelling companion, who survived the attack, told police two Arab men had set upon them while they were hiking.

Friends of Ms Luken, who was 44, attended a memorial service on Thursday in Jerusalem, remembering her as a devout Christian.

The survivor, Kaye Susan Wilson, told police that she and Ms Luken - initially identified by Israeli police as Christine Logan - were attacked on Saturday by two Arab men armed with bread knives while walking in the Mata forest, near the town of Beit Shemesh.

Ms Wilson said she had played dead and managed to flee the scene and reach the road, where people put her in contact with police.

The forest is located inside Israel but close to the West Bank.

Israeli police are investigating whether the killing was political but have not ruled out a criminal motive.

Ms Luken was a member of the Church's Ministry among Jewish people, a US and UK-based missionary group.

Israel does not legally prohibit missionary activity, although it does prohibit the use of economic inducement to achieve religious conversion.

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that it was illegal to carry out missionary work in Israel.)

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