Pakistan teenager burned alive for refusing marriage proposal

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A young Pakistani woman died on Wednesday (June 1) after she was tortured and set alight in the country's conservative north-east for refusing a marriage proposal from the son of a former colleague, relatives and police said.

Ms Maria Sadaqat, 19, was attacked by a group of people on Monday in the village of Upper Dewal close to the summer hill resort of Murree, outside the capital Islamabad.

"She was badly tortured and then burned alive. We brought her to hospital in Islamabad but she succumbed to her wounds today," Mr Abdul Basit, Ms Sadaqat's uncle, told AFP outside a burns centre at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital.

Grieving relatives outside the centre wept and protested at the teenager's death as the police moved her body to another hospital for a post-mortem.

Mr Basit said his niece had been attacked by the principal of the private school where she had formerly worked as a teacher, and by his accomplices after she refused a marriage proposal from his son.

"He was divorced and twice her age, so she refused the proposal and left her job when they pursued her time and again... eventually they attacked her," Mr Basit said.

Police said Ms Sadaqat gave a statement before her death, naming the principal and four others as her attackers.

"We have arrested at least one of the accused and a hunt is on for the rest," Mr Mazhar Iqbal, the officer directing the murder investigation, told AFP.

A doctor at the hospital said Ms Sadaqat had succumbed to serious burns.

"The poor woman was becoming better but then could not survive because most parts of her body had serious burn injuries," said Dr Ayesha Ihsani.

It was the second time in just over a month that a Pakistani woman had been murdered over a marriage issue.

A woman believed to be aged between 16 and 18 was drugged, strangled and her body burned on the orders of a village jirga (council) in north-west Pakistan on April 29, allegedly for helping a friend to elope with her lover.

Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year on the pretext of defending what is seen as family honour.