A seven-year-old girl was raped and brutally murdered allegedly by some of her close relatives in Bhittaiabad area of Karachi's Gulistan-i-Jauhar neighbourhood, police said on Wednesday.
SSP (Investigation) East Zone, Abid Hussain Qaimkhani, told Dawn the police have arrested three suspects who happen to be relatives of the girl after registering a case against them.
During an initial probe, police gathered significant clues regarding the torture inflicted on the girl before her death, while DNA samples of the suspects and the victim were being taken to ascertain the identity of the person who subjected her to rape, the officer said.
The minor girl's body was brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for post-mortem examination on Tuesday night.
Medico-legal officer Dr Zakia Khurshid confirmed to media representatives on Tuesday night that the girl was raped and there were torture marks on her body. There were also burn wounds caused by a cigarette.
The victim's death was caused by strangulation, the doctor revealed.
SSP Qaimkhani said the girl had been living at the home of her uncle in Bhittaiabad after her father's death around one-and-a-half years earlier.
The senior officer who visited the crime scene on Wednesday told Dawn that as per the police probe, there is only one man in the house who consumes cigarette and he happens to be the brother of the victim's brother-in-law.
The police also recovered a pipe from the house which was allegedly used to beat the victim.
The SSP revealed that one of the detained suspects had "confessed" to beating the minor girl but police were making efforts with the help of modern technology to ascertain the identity of the suspect who sexually assaulted her.
Sachal police have registered a first information report (FIR) against four suspects on a complaint filed by the victim's brother who arrived in Karachi from Jacobabad. The case has been registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 376 (punishment for rape) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Three of the nominated suspects have been arrested while a fourth suspect is absconding, SSP Qaimkhani said.
The girl's brother will take her coffin for burial to their native place in Jacobabad.
The incident is an uneasy reminder of the horrific rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Ansari in Kasur earlier this year, when #JusticeforZainab became the rallying cry in a nationwide drive to end violence against children.
An anti-terrorism court had sentenced convict Imran Ali to death on four counts in the Zainab murder case, while the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court had dismissed his appeal against the trial court's verdict.