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16, ‘burnt alive’ for helping couple to elope.

Pakistani police
on Thursday arrested 15 members of a tribal council accused of ordering
the burning alive of a young girl for helping a couple to elope in a
so-called “honor killing”, police said.

The
16-year-old girl was set on fire last week in the town of Donga Gali,
about 50 km (30 miles) northeast of the capital, Islamabad, on the
orders of the council, said district police chief Saeed Wazir.

Police
said the honor killing was ordered as punishment for what the council
deemed irreparable damage to the village’s reputation. The couple
appeared to have escaped.

The
girl’s mother and brother were also arrested, Wazir said, as they were
present during the meeting and allegedly agreed to the sentence.

Jirgas,
or tribal councils, are often called in Pakistan’s northwestern regions
as a means of local conflict resolution, but their edicts have no legal
standing under Pakistani law.

The girl’s mother
told police her daughter had helped a couple from the nearby village of
Makol elope, in defiance of cultural norms.

“The
jirga then took her to an abandoned place outside the village and made
her unconscious by injecting her with some drugs,” said Wazir.

“Then they seated
the girl in a van in which the couple had escaped. They tied her hands
to the seats and then poured petrol on her and the vehicle.”

The vehicle was set ablaze.

“I hadn’t seen such a barbaric attack in my whole life,” he said.

More than 500 men
and women were killed in honor killings in Pakistan last year, according
to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Many of those crimes are
carried out by relatives who say the victims have brought shame on the
family.

Few cases go to court, but
among those that do, attackers are often forgiven under a clause of law
rooted in Islamic law. Legislation is currently pending at Pakistan’s
parliament to close the loophole, which many say encourages such
attacks.

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