KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) With leads into Islamic extremist groups running dry, Pakistani investigators said yesterday they were expanding their search for the kidnappers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl into Karachi”s murky criminal underworld.

The investigation has been complicated because of several e-mails purportedly from the kidnappers which police now believe were hoaxes. Late yesterday, police searched an eastern Karachi neighborhood from which e-mails believed genuine may have been sent.

Investigators still consider Islamic extremists, especially Harkat ul-Mujahedeen, as the most likely suspects in the Jan. 23 abduction of Pearl, the newspaper”s South Asian bureau chief.

An e-mail sent to news organizations Friday claimed that Pearl had been killed and his body dumped in a Karachi cemetery. Police combed cemeteries Saturday, but found no trace of Pearl and regard the claim as a hoax.

The discovery in Karachi of a light-skinned man in his late 30s led to initial media reports yesterday that the body was Pearl”s, but police said the corpse was that of an Iranian.

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