Dismembered Japanese girl, 6, found in plastic bags

TOKYO - The dismembered body of a six-year-old Japanese girl has been found in several plastic bags near her home, police said Wednesday.

DNA tests confirmed the body parts were those of Mirei Ikuta, who went missing in the western Japan city of Kobe on September 11, local police said.

Media reports said officers were questioning a 47-year-old man who lives in the neighbourhood.

Japan has one of the world's lowest crime rates and violent crime is relatively rare. It is not uncommon for children as young as six to walk home alone from school, even in big cities.

An intensive search was launched after Mirei failed to return home two weeks ago, but there were no leads until a number of foul-smelling plastic bags were uncovered in a bush just 100 metres (yards) from the girl's house on Tuesday.

They contained the head, the upper torso with arms, and the legs, a police spokesman told AFP by telephone, adding that some body parts had yet to be found.

Clothes and sandals believed to belong to the girl were also found at the site, he added.