A 15-year-old second cousin of the four-year-old Mardan girl found dead in a field in January was arrested by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Police for his suspected involvement in the alleged rape and murder of the minor.
Inspector General (IG) Police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Salahuddin Mehsud said the suspect has confessed to his crimes.
Speaking to the media in Peshawar, the IG KP said that the suspect in the "blind case" was traced using DNA samples obtained from a single drop of blood found on a leaf near the crime scene.
The IG also stated that the accused had unsuccessfully attempted rape before murdering the girl, contradicting a forensic report earlier issued by the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) which had stated that the girl was raped before she was murdered.
The accused was produced before an Anti Terrorism Court in Mardan later in the day, which remanded him to police custody for 10 days.
Mardan Regional Police Officer (RPO) Alam Shinwari, speaking to media earlier in the day, claimed that the suspect had attempted to rape the child but ended up suffocating her to death with his hands after she began shouting and crying.
The suspect, a daily wage labourer at a hotel, is a relative of the victim who lived on the same street as her, the RPO and IG told the media. The teenager took the child to a sugarcane field near her house when a wedding ceremony was underway in the area on January 13. Her body was found there the next day.
IG KP Mehsud said that the police was under pressure and had faced a number of hindrances in solving the case as there was no CCTV footage due to a lack of cameras in the area. However, he added, the police had not arrested any innocent people.
The only other person arrested in connection with the case was another man whose DNA matched that recovered from an object collected from the crime scene. However, the suspect was found to be innocent by police during an investigation and will be released soon, the police officials said.
The KP police had sought help of the PFSA which had issued its report on the DNA samples yesterday.
The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the Mardan case following nationwide outrage over the alleged rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin in Kasur, and taken the KP police force to task for their 'less than exemplary' performance in tracking down the suspects and solving the case.
Unknown attacker enters victim's house
A knife-wielding suspect barged into the house of the four-year-old victim later the same day, DawnNews reported.
The suspect harassed family members and pointed a knife at them. In response to the family's cries for help, neighbours rushed to the scene and overpowered the suspect.
A neighbour received injuries while dragging the suspect out of the house. Subsequently, police also reached on the spot and took the suspect into their custody.
Though the identity of the suspect has yet to be made public, initial reports suggest that the suspect is a resident of the same area.
RPO Alam Shenwari told DawnNews that the attacker was apparently suffering from mental health issues. He was trying to harm himself in police custody, the officer said, adding that police have shifted the suspect to a hospital.
However, DPO Mardan Dr Mian Saeed refuted the report, claiming that the man had been involved in a monetary dispute with a shopkeeper and had kicked and punched the doors of multiple houses before he was arrested.