A young couple murdered in Pakistan barely a week after they had married for love were killed as a warning to other girls not to marry without the permission of their parents, witnesses said.
Residents of Satrah, Punjab, said relatives of the bride slit the throats of the couple and forced children to watch as they bled to death.
A string of similar murders has provoked revulsion around the world and promises of action inside Pakistan. But the nature of the latest deaths is savage even by the standards of the country's grisly honour killings.
Police said yesterday they had arrested five people in connection with the murder of Sajjad Ahmed, 31, and Muafia Bibi, 17, including the bride's father and grandfather. Muhammad Pervaiz, the local police chief, said: "It is a case of honour killing. The couple were not beheaded, but were killed with the knives and had severe signs of torture on their heads."
Satrah is close to the city of Sialkot in an area known for its conservative customs and where women have little value beyond their worth as a bride.
• Pregnant woman stoned to death by her family
Residents said relatives of Ms Bibi had told the couple they supported the marriage and invited them to the town, where they were drugged.
Family pictures of Sajjad Ahmed and his wife Muafia Bibi. Photo / AP
Muhammad Ijaz, who runs a mobile phone shop, said: "Their legs and arms were tied while their mouths were gagged with pieces of cloth. The father of the girl announced loudly that he was going to slit the throat of her daughter and her husband."
A crowd gathered as they were brought to the courtyard of the family house. Someone said the children should be sent away, but Ms Bibi's father told them to stay and watch, Mr Ijaz said.
"He said they should learn what would happen to them if they married someone of their own choice," he explained. Honour killings are nothing new in Pakistan. Hundreds go unnoticed every year, written off as domestic accidents or suicides. Human rights groups say almost 900 were reported in 2013, but the real number may be much higher.
The practice came to global attention last month when a pregnant woman was bludgeoned to death by her relatives in a busy Lahore street.
Farzana Parveen was murdered close to the city's court complex which was teeming with police officers. She died amid a dispute between her husband and her parents over the bride price paid for her hand. Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister, demanded that police chiefs explain why officers failed to intervene. The case also prompted moderate clerics to issue a fatwa condemning honour killings.
It seems to have made little difference.
The weekend's newspapers continued their roll call of shame. In one story, a young couple were shot dead by the wife's father for apparently marrying without permission.
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