PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Village elders burned a 16-year-old girl to death in rural Pakistan after she helped a local couple elope, police said Thursday.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Saeed Khan Wazir said the victim's mother and 15 members of a village jirga — a group that resolves local disputes based on its interpretation of Islam — were arrested on Wednesday over the crime.
The slain girl was named Ambreen but also was known as Haleema, Wazir said, without providing a family name.
Police said Ambreen was taken from her home in Makol, which is 22 miles south of the garrison city of Abbottabad in northeast Pakistan, on April 28.
Members of the jirga then sedated and strangled Ambreen with her own shawl and placed her unconscious body in the van the couple had eloped in, according to Wazir.
“The jirga members ... decided to punish the girl in a novel way so no one in future can dare to marry without consent of their parents and give a bad name to the village," Wazir said. "They tied her hands with the seats and then poured [gasoline] on her and the vehicle and set it on fire.”
He told NBC News those arrested would face trial in anti-terrorism court.
While the Quran prohibits forced marriages, young people in conservative areas of Pakistan often are not allowed to choose who they marry and can be punished if they try to go against the will of their family.
“This is an extreme of barbarism. I haven’t seen such an inhuman incident in my career," Wazir added.