MULTAN, Pakistan — Pakistani police arrested a newly married woman on murder charges after she allegedly poisoned her husband's milk and it inadvertently killed 17 other people in a remote village, a senior police officer said Wednesday.
Police questioned the woman for two weeks to determine whether it was the woman's decision or her boyfriend had incited her to kill her husband by poisoning him, district police chief Sohail Habib Tajak said.
"This incident took place last week and our officers have made progress by arresting a woman and her lover in connection with this murder case, which was complicated and challenging for us," he told The Associated Press on phone.
Tajak said the woman, who was not identified, was married against her will in September in a village near the town of Ali Pur, 60 miles south of Multan, a city in the eastern Punjab province.
He said the woman was not happy with her husband and wanted to return to her parents' home.
Tajak said the woman obtained a poisonous substance from her boyfriend last week and mixed it in milk for her husband, who refused to drink it. But the woman's mother-in-law later used the tainted milk to make a traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 people in her extended family, who fell unconscious and were hospitalized.
Seventeen died and 10 are being treated in a hospital, he said.
The woman appeared before a judge in the city of Muzaffargarh on Tuesday, where she told reporters that she was angered over her parents' decision to marry her to a man against her will.
"I repeatedly asked my parents not to marry me against my will as my religion, Islam, also allows me to choose the man of my choice for marriage but my parents rejected all of my pleas and they married me to a relative," she said.
The woman said her love affair with her boyfriend continued after she got married.
She said she had warned her parents that she could go to any extent to get out of her marriage, but they refused to allow her to get a divorce.
The woman said her boyfriend gave her a poisonous substance, which she mixed in her husband's milk, but he did not drink it. Her mother-in-law spotted the glass of milk and she mixed it in the traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 people.
The woman expressed remorse over the deaths, saying her target was only her husband.
Tajak said police were trying to trace and arrest all those who were aware of the woman's plot aimed at killing her husband. He said the woman's boyfriend had also confessed to supplying poisonous substance to the woman.
Many parents in Pakistan arrange marriages for their daughters against their will, but such incidents are rare.