UPPER DEWAL, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police said Thursday that they had arrested two suspects and were continuing their search for five men who tortured a 19-year-old schoolteacher and burned her to death for refusing to marry a man twice her age.
The teenager's mother, Ashia Bibi, told The Associated Press that, hours before her death, her daughter Maria had given police a statement alleging that five men had stormed her house earlier that week, dragged her to an open area and kicked her as though she were a "football." Speaking from her home in the village of Upper Dewal in northern Pakistan, Bibi tearfully demanded justice for her daughter.
"Those callous people mercilessly tortured my daughter when I was not at home," she said.
Bibi said her daughter was killed for rejecting a marriage proposal from a man who owned a school and wanted Maria to marry his son.
Local police official Waheed Ahmed said that authorities were aware that Maria Bibi had been attacked days before her death. The teenager died on Wednesday at a hospital in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. "Police are doing whatever possible to arrest all those who took part in this attack," he said.
The teenager's father, Sadaqat Hussain Abbasi, said the police response had been inadequate.
He showed AP the spot where his daughter was set on fire by her attackers, where a patch of grass was visibly charred. "My daughter told me everything before her death and we have her video statement," he said.
Farzana Bazi, a prominent human right activist, condemned the incident and demanded a "stern punishment" for the culprits.
Violence against women is not uncommon in Pakistan where nearly 1,000 women are killed each year in so-called "honor killings" for allegedly violating conservative norms on love and marriage.
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.