The uncle of a minor girl in Mardan, who was found raped and murdered in a field in the Pato Kalay area last week, confessed to the crime in police custody on Monday, police said.

District Police Officer (DPO) Mardan Wahid Mehmood said that the victim's father had informed the police that the girl missing on Aug 7. After search parties were unable to locate her in the neighbourhood and nearby fields, the matter was reported to police and they began searching for her.

The victim's body was recovered from a field near the family's home early on Aug 8, the DPO said, after which a first information report was registered under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code, the DPO said.

The victim's body was sent to Mardan Medical Complex Hospital for a post-mortem examination. The medico-legal report confirmed that the minor was raped and had died due to strangulation.

DNA samples were sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency in Lahore for testing, and Sections 364-A, 376 of the PPC, and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act were added to the FIR, DPO Mehmood said.

A special investigation team visited the spot and collected DNA samples, took photographs and fingerprints from the crime scene, and collected data from four villages in the area.

So far, at least 220 have been questioned during the course of the investigation, the police official added.

According to the DPO, a prime suspect, the brother of the complainant, disclosed that on Aug 7, he was in his house after evening prayers when their stepbrother came to his house and requested help, saying that he had murdered his niece after raping her in his room earlier that day.

The father's stepbrother had kept the body in his own house before taking it out to the fields. The father's brother said he followed his step brother to the fields about 100 metres away from the village where the body of the child was lying, the DPO said.

During interrogation, the complainant's step brother disclosed that after he raped the girl, he had murdered her in his house.