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By Batsheva Sobelman, Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM — A man’s body was found Thursday near the area where a young American yeshiva student had disappeared while hiking six days earlier. An Israeli police spokesman said initial indications suggested it was that of the missing man, but declined to say whether there was any sign of foul play.

Searchers had scoured the area for days for after Aharon Sofer, 23, of Lakewood, New Jersey, failed to rendezvous with a friend after a hike in the woods outside Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said identification of the body, found near the village of Ein Karem, had not been finalized but that preliminary investigation suggested the remains were probably those of Sofer. Forensics teams were at the site, he said.

Word of the body’s discovery came hours before family and friends had been planning a prayer vigil and news conference Thursday evening at Jerusalem’s Western Wall. The parents of the missing student, who had come to Israel to study at an ultra-Orthodox seminary, had flown to Israel to await the result of the search.

Shlomo Sofer, a cousin reached by telephone, declined to comment on what the family had been told by police.

Sobelman is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Laura King in Tel Aviv contributed to this report.

Photo via WikiCommons

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