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Mardan police on Thursday confirmed that the 5-year-old girl, whose body was recovered on August 8 from agricultural fields in Dhandu Pathu village of Takhtbai tehsil, was raped before being brutally murdered after the medico-legal report came to light, DawnNewsTV reported.

A Mardan police official said the medico-legal report confirms that the minor was raped, adding that the child died due to strangulation.

The official further confirmed that at least six suspects have been arrested in the case and are currently being interrogated. He also told DawnNewsTV that DNA samples have been collected from at least 75 people living in three different villages.

The DNA samples have already been sent for forensic tests, the official said. Besides, a first information report has been registered in the case.

On Wednesday, the child's body was found not far away from the family's residence. Officials of Takhtbai police station took the body to Mardan Medical Complex Hospital for postmortem.

Police officials said the hands and legs of the girl were fastened before she was strangulated.

Reports reveal that thousands of child abuse incidents take place in Pakistan every year. The menace used to be under-reported but that changed with the brutal rape and murder of Zainab Ansari in Kasur earlier this year.

The six-year-old child's death became a watershed moment and forced the law enforcement authorities as well as the media to pay more attention to cases of violence against children.