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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Man suspected of rape and murder of Zainab Ansari arrested in Pakistan​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ 

Suspect could be linked to death of eight other children

A Pakistani girl lights a candle during a memorial for Zainab Ansari, in Islamabad, Pakistan on January 11. A suspect has been arrested over her rape and murder. BK Bangash / AP Photo
A Pakistani girl lights a candle during a memorial for Zainab Ansari, in Islamabad, Pakistan on January 11. A suspect has been arrested over her rape and murder. BK Bangash / AP Photo

A Pakistani official says a suspect in the rape and killing of a 7-year-old girl has been arrested in a case that has stirred outrage across the country.

The child, Zainab Ansari, was assaulted and her body thrown in a garbage dump.

The government spokesman in Punjab province, Malik Ahmed Khan, said on Tuesday that the suspect, identified as Mohammed Imran, was arrested near the city of Kasur where Zainab was killed earlier this month.

Her killing exposed a string of child abductions and slayings by a suspected serial predator. It wasn't immediately clear whether the same suspect is linked to the deaths of eight other children.

Among the eight victims was 5-year-old Ayesha. Her father, Mohammed Asif, said he pleaded with the police to find her after her abduction last year.

"They had no interest. They were more interested in keeping it quiet," he said.

Zainab's father, Mohammed Amin, demanded in an interview with a local television that the culprit be hanged.

The killing of Zainab has unleashed a wave of revulsion around Pakistan and generating outrage at a culture of silence surrounding sexual abuse.

The girl's death has even given birth to a nascent Pakistani version of the #MeToo movement.

A number of prominent Pakistani women have come forward with their own stories of sexual assault, saying they want to change traditions that consider abuse as a mark of shame for the victim. Those traditions, they say, help predators get away with abuse and encourage an already corrupt police force to ignore such crimes.

Mr Amin, denounced police for failing to warn residents about a serial killer in the city. "People don't talk about sexual abuse," he said.

It was only after the shock over Zainab that news emerged of other children abducted and raped in Kasur. Amid the uproar, police did testing on the victims and found the same DNA on eight of the children, all but one of whom was killed. Police now say they are hunting for a serial rapist-killer.

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