Zainab Ansari Image Credit: Supplied

DNA test results have led to the arrest of the man who raped and killed eight-year-old Zainab Ansari, police sources said on Tuesday.  

The victim from Kasur went missing on January 4 en route to her aunt’s house; her body was later found in a trash heap. An autopsy pointed to her having being raped before being strangled to death.

The apprehended suspect, identified as 24-year-old Imran, is a neighbour of the aunt’s and matches the description of the man seen with Zainab on CCTV footage ahead of her disappearance.

Iman had been questioned earlier by the police over the incident, but released after the victim’s family called him someone ‘trusted’. However, further investigations led back to him. He has since confessed to the crime, Geo News reported sources as saying. The suspect had apparently shaved his beard off, causing some delay in facial recognition using CCTV footage.

Samaa.com reports sources claiming the suspect believed his father and he were under the influence of jinns (spirits). However, the news website also said police sources believed he was of stable mind when the incident occurred.

Meanwhile, Punjab government’s spokesperson, Malik Ahmed Khan, was quoted as saying by Dawn daily:  “We have found some initial evidence [against the suspect] and there is well-found reason to believe that he is the culprit [behind Zainab's rape and murder.”

He said a forensic report would be available later in the day (at around 7pm) and, once all suspicions had been confirmed, media would be informed.

Some of the suspect's accomplices are also reportedly in police custody.

On Sunday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court gave Punjab’s police chief a 72-hour deadline to arrest suspects responsible for Zainab’s death.

The public outrage sparked by Zainab’s death has led to shock, dismay and a consideration of child abuse laws in the country. Pakistan’s National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Friday formed a 10-member committee for suggesting recommendations to stop child abuse incidents.