Two protesters have been killed after the rape and murder of a young girl in Pakistan set off deadly riots and a worldwide call for justice across social media.
The body of seven-year-old Zainab was found in a trash heap in Kasur, northeast Pakistan on Tuesday, days after her family had reported her missing, according to Pakistan paper Dawn.
Police believe she was raped and strangled to death, the latest victim in a spate of kidnappings and murders of young girls in the city.
The case prompted outrage and riots across Kasur, with residents blaming police for not doing enough to prevent a rash of abductions, sexual assaults and murders. The two protesters were killed on Wednesday when police opened fire on demonstrators who attempted to storm a police headquarters.
Police in Kasur have recorded 12 similar murders over the past two years, and believe at least five of the cases can be linked to the same person, the BBC reports. DNA samples have reportedly been taken from dozens of potential suspects, but no one has yet been arrested.
Zainab’s family told local media they believe police failed to adequately respond after they reported their daughter missing on Jan. 4. Zainab was last seen on her way to Koran recital class.
It was relatives of the missing girl, and not the authorities, who reportedly tracked down CCTV footage that showed Zainab being led by the hand down a road by an unknown man.
“If the police would have acted immediately, the culprit would have been caught,” Zainab’s father told local news channel Geo TV.
A month before Zainab’s disappearance, a nine-year-old girl disappeared from Kasur’s city center. The girl managed to escape her abductor and return home. Police in Kasur said such incidents are happening regularly, hitting the city about once every other month.
Zainab’s case has caught the attention of actors, athletes and activists, with the the social media tag #JusticeforZainab now trending worldwide. Pakistani Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai recently joined the family’s call for justice.