This story has been updated.
Protesters in the Pakistani city of Kasur took to the streets for the third day Friday over the rape and murder of 7-year-old Zainab Amin, whose body was uncovered on a pile of garbage this week, days after she was reported missing.
According to an autopsy report, Zainab was sodomized and strangled to death. Dr. Quratulain Atique, who did the autopsy, told CNN that there were torture marks on her face and her tongue was “crushed between her teeth.”
Pakistan Today reported Saturday that police arrested three suspects in the case, but the man seen leading Zainab away in surveillance video given to police by family remains at large. On Sunday, authorities released a sketch of the man they believe picked her up. The suspect is said to be between 30-35 years old.
At least 600 DNA samples were collected in the past 10 days.
It’s possible she had been dead for two to three days before she was found in garbage 100 meters from her home Tuesday, Atique said. Zainab’s parents were out of the country on a pilgrimage when their daughter was kidnapped and was staying with her aunt and uncle.
She was buried Thursday at her ancestral graveyard in Road Kot.
But that’s only part of the story.
Police say Zainab was the ninth girl to be sexually assaulted and the eighth to be killed in the past two years by the same serial killer from the 2-kilometer district in Kasur, Pakistan, about 30 miles from Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province. The sole survivor is currently in the hospital, Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told CNN Sunday.
Officials are waiting on DNA results to confirm. Three boys were also raped and murdered in the district around the same time, according to Khan. But those cases aren’t connected to the serial killer or to each other.
Initially, officials said Zainab was the 12th victim to be raped and killed in Kasur, Pakistan, in two years. The details above were confirmed Sunday.
According to Australian news agency ABC, Eman Fatma, 4; Fauzia, 11; Noor Fatma, 7; Ayesha Asif, 5; Laiba, 9; Sana Omar, 7; and Kainat Batool, 8, were among the past victims.
The serial killer believed to be responsible is also the focus of a manhunt involving hundreds of law enforcement officials, police said. At least 90 potential suspects have had their DNA tested.
"For the last two years, we are living in fear, parents are scared to send their kids outside," Zainab's father Muhammad Amin Ansari told reporters.
Mumtaz Gohar, senior program officer at Pakistani news agency Sahil, told The Express Tribune that in 2017, there were a total of 129 cases of child assault reported from Kasur. Thirty-four were abductions, 23 were rapes, 19 involved sodomy, 17 were attempted rapes, six abduction and rapes, and four abduction and gang rapes.
In 2015, an investigation into the Kasur district uncovered a major child sexual abuse scandal involving up to 25 men who blackmailed children into making sex videos between 2009 and 2014, according to CNN.
Pakistan's National Commission on Human Rights claimed that it published a report into widespread child abuse in Kasur following the 2015 scandal, but its findings were ignored by the district.
“The present incident is an example of the ineptitude of the authorities which have failed to address the issue in an appropriate manner to curb its future recurrence,” the NCHR’s reports stated.
Demonstrators flooded the streets Wednesday and Thursday following Zainab’s death this week, many angry that authorities in the Punjab province have done little to keep their kids safe. Residents chanted, "We want the perpetrators brought to justice,” ABC reported.
But the protests quickly turned violent. Some demonstrators set vehicles on fire, destroyed buildings and at least two people died in clashes with police.
On Thursday, the hashtag #JusticeForZainab spread online as Twitter users around the globe expressed outrage and demanded justice. Some shared photos and video of the 7-year-old.
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize, also spoke out about the horrendous crime.
According to CNN, on Thursday, Punjab's Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif demanded police find and arrest Zainab’s killers in the next 24 hours and offered a $10 million rupee bounty (equivalent to $90,000) to anyone who helps.
Early evidence, officials said, suggests the perpetrator was a family acquaintance, the Washington Post reported. As aforementioned, Pakistan Today reported Saturday that police arrested three suspects in the case, but the man seen leading Zainab away in surveillance video given to police by family remains at large. Officials said the suspect was between 30-35 years old.
Some lawmakers seemed to imply that Zainab's family was partly to blame.
“A child's safety is its parents' responsibility,” Rana Sanaullah, the law minister of Punjab, told the newspaper Dawn.
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