Reuters International

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A 60-year-old British man who went missing for several weeks in late March, was confirmed to have been killed in China, the Hong Kong police said in a statement after being notified by Chinese authorities.

Hilary St John Bower, who had worked as an English language instructor at the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, had been dead for more than a week by the time he was reported missing on March 30, according to a police statement.

"The victim was killed on the evening of March 22 in mainland China," the Hong Kong police said, after receiving notice from their Chinese counterparts.

The police statement included no specifics, however, on how he was killed, a possible motive, or why it had taken so long to confirm Bower's death.

Hong Kong media reported that Bower had a longtime girlfriend and a son in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, and had often travelled between the two places.

The Chinese Public Security Bureau in Shenzhen said it had no information on the case, when contacted by Reuters.

The Polytechnic University also gave no immediate response to inquiries about Bower.

A British embassy representative said, "We are providing support to the family at this difficult time, and will remain in close contact with local authorities."

The Hong Kong police are seeking further details from Chinese authorities and investigations are continuing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had only just heard about the situation and did not know any other details.

Bower had taught at the Polytechnic University since 1996, according to his profile on the university website. He had previously taught in China, South Korea, Thailand, Spain and Kuwait.

Murders of foreigners are extremely rare in China, though the murder in 2011 of another British man, Neil Heywood triggered one of the country's biggest political scandals in decades. The wife of former top Chinese leader Bo Xilai was later convicted as Heywood's killer, leading to Bo's downfall and sentencing to life in prison in 2013 for corruption.

(Reporting by Tris Pan and Kevin Dai; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; writing by James Pomfret; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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