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The DNA samples of 243 suspects are being cross-matched with those recovered from the body of a four-year-old Mardan girl who was allegedly raped and murdered in January in efforts to trace the perpetrators, police said Thursday.

"We have received the victim's DNA report, in light of which further steps are being taken," Mardan Regional Police Officer Alam Shinwari told DawnNews.

"The specimen samples taken for analysis and cross-matching purposes have been forwarded to the relevant department."

Read more: Medico-legal report of 4-year-old Mardan girl points to sexual violence: IG KP

The DNA samples of the suspects, which also include close relatives of the victim, have been sent to the Forensic Science laboratory in Lahore for cross-matching as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police do not have the facilities required to conduct such tests, the RPO added.

According to Shinwari, the cross-matching will help police identify the culprit(s) behind the gruesome crime.

The victim was abducted from outside her home on Jan 13 by an unknown assailant. She was found dead a day later in a nearby sugarcane field.

Cases of sexual assault against minors have come under greater scrutiny in the country following the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin in Kasur, whose body was recovered from a trash heap in the city on January 9.

The news shocked the entire country with #JusticeforZainab becoming a rallying cry for catching and punishing perpetrators of such heinous crimes.